Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Outlash...West Texas' Good Time Band

Why am I so fond of this metal band? Not only do they know how to please a crowd, but their dedication to fans and friends can't be surpassed. When lead guitarist J.R. Sanchez heard of his long time friend and fan, Erika Berry, need for assistance he knew he could count on Outlash to provide some help. Within a matter of minutes, J.R. confirmed that Outlash would do a benefit performance with all proceeds going towards Erika's medical expenses.

Outlash is a new breed of West Texas metal whose name has become synonymous with precise, melodic, and catchy hard rock. They appeal to a wide and varied audience with music that is heavy enough for hardcore listeners, but still radio-friendly and accessible to the masses.

The sound can best be described as a style of groove metal with a slightly technical edge, coarse (not harsh) vocals and thick-sounding riffs, and a melodic core with head-banging beats. Lyrically and stylistically original themes dealing with everything from tattooing to emotional pain and suffering, the overall musical mood is dark and melancholy, but doesn't focus on political or religious subjects thereby avoiding pretentiousness. But it is definitely metal, and definitely engages the listener.

Formed in October of 2008, the band draws its creative force from the input of four prominent local musicians whom each bring a unique perspective and talent to the writing process. The line-up consists of vocalist and guitarist Ed Alvarado (Driveshaft and Easy to Empty), lead guitarist J.R. Sanchez (Black Tooth Grin and Easy to Empty), bassist Evan Bouten (Driveshaft and Section-8), and drummer Tony Diamond (Lotus and Red-Effect).

All members have extensive stage and studio experience, bringing their various backgrounds together to produce the powerful music of Outlash. With a vast repertoire of covers to compliment their original music (everything from Pink Floyd to Pantera), Outlash is suitable to any rock venue and is eager to entertain and engage all crowds, small or large, with their impressive stage presence and powerful sound. They have also recently recorded and released a full-length demo, Machine Precision, and have a full line of merchandise available for their fans.
band bio provided by J.R. Sanchez

Erika's Story

You just never know when there's a ticking time bomb in your head. Sounds unheard of, but that's exactly what happened to Erika Berry.

On the morning of Friday, January 29th, Erika, getting ready for work, was feeling fine, but all that drastically changed When she stepped out of the shower. Erika's condition went from the usual and ordinary to her dropped to her knees by a sharp pain behind her right eye.

Erika said, "I was also having pain in the back of my neck and could no longer move very far. I was hot and sweaty so, I laid over on the
tile to cool off."

That was all Erika managed to remember because it was at that point she lost consciousness and didn't wake up until almost 6 that afternoon.

Erika managed to stand up, grab the trash can and make her way to the
bed. She continued to slip in and out of consciousness for several hours
until her friend,Deborah, found her and rushed her to Medical Center.

Erika recounts, "I was in the ER for several hours having tests ran.
When they did the first CT, they noticed a sub arachnoid hemorrhage.
They then sent me for an angiogram where the aneurysm was very
apparent. I was finally placed in ICU around 6am Saturday morning."

Erika was flown to UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas for surgery
Sunday morning. An incision was made from the front of her left eye,
behind the hairline and down to the front of her right earlobe.
Erika's scalp was pulled back, the right jaw was dislocated and a piece
of her skull was removed to access the aneurysm.

Erika continued telling all about the surgery, "A small clamp was
placed at the aneurysm. The piece of skull was replaced and closed
with titanium plates and screws. The scalp was closed with 34 staples.
In all, I spent 10 days in the hospital in Dallas."

The doctors were so amazed with her progress that she was released
almost 5 days before her scheduled date. She continues to improve
everyday. Erika was happy to report that at her last check up
all went exceptionally well and she is not due back until April 27th.
Photo by Erika Berry

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Recovering From The Alamo

The girls and I traveled to San Antonio for a quick trip. While there we visited my doctor, swam in a very cold pool, sat in the hot tub, ate at the Rain Forest Cafe, saw the Alamo, walked the River Walk, went on a Ghosts and Legends tour, got completely lost, and finally spent a day at Sea World.

I won't bother you with the details of seeing the doc, but Durango was able to decipher the nature of my visit correctly. That's right I'm having breast reduction surgery. These bad boys are causing a great deal of back pain. And seeing that Durango has first hand experience with extra large bosoms, it would only make sense that he should be consulted.

The same day of doc seeing also had us city seeing. We parked at Dennys and walked to Alamo Plaza, just a few blocks away. Upon arriving, we passed right in front of the Alamo. I remember taking the tour when I was fourteen and was amazed to find the Alamo in downtown San Antonio. Of course, being from Mississippi I really didn't understand the reasoning, until later after having a bit of Texas History. The fort would have been the center of town. Makes sense, at that time this was hostile territory so you'd need a fort with defenses and naturally the city just "formed" around it. Well, that's my simplified version.

There's so much to tell and well, I just haven't been able to catch up since being back...whew...I need another Spring Break!

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Political Party-- WE THE PEOPLE

Okay, jokingly I suggested to a friend today that I was going to create a new political party. This party is all inclusive. This party only has one purpose--to protect the people. As I thought about the absurdity of my statement, I began to really ponder it. Why not? Protecting the people means protecting all individuals rights from all sorts of abuse. Poorly funded schools, poverty, corrupt politicians, greedy corporations, eminent domain, and all those things that have plagued our society for years and which we the people have complacently accepted.

I've come to this decision after experiencing an unbelievable turn of events. I'll not repeat what happened to Steve Doeung, if you don't know click here to find out. I reside in a very small town of just 900 people. I'm friends with Jesse, who has had five family members stricken with cancer and all but one has succumbed to the disease. Cancer is something that Jesse takes personally and cares about. He decided one day to create from nothing, an event to benefit the Hope House in Midland, Texas. In about a month's time, Jesse and a few of his friends worked together and organized a tournament to raise donations for Hope House.

The benefit went off without a hitch, and in this little bitty town of only 900 people, $5000 dollars was raised. Next month another benefit is being done to raise money for a single mom friend of mine that underwent brain surgery. She has no health insurance and people have rallied around her in support. I can almost guarantee that the amount raised will be doubled. In March I sat at a table in the Texas Moon and I listened to the guitar player of a local band and the manager of a local bar...people who've had NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE in fund raising plan and organize this event within a matter of minutes.

Why am I telling you this? Because I find it nearly impossible to believe that in a town the size of Ft Worth, with the so called experts of fund raising, the experts of organizing, the experts of community activists that not one single penny was raised to help provide legal defense for Steve Doeung. And these people had an ENTIRE YEAR to do it!

Why is it that "concerned" people are not taking action? Why is it that they are only talking? How is it that "people" with experience in organizing huge events haven't been able to put together a simple bake sale outside a Walmart, or find a local band to perform a concert and collect a cover charge at the door, or do a softball tournament where the proceeds would be donated? Do they have a hidden agenda? Are they being made promises by city officials to put on the guise of help in exchange for monetary benefits? Are certain protections being offered in exchange for martyrdom silence?

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that these are some harsh unfair questions. But guess what? I have the right to ask them...are you going to answer them?

My Sources Have Just Informed Me...HOTT OFF THE PRESS

This morning I told you that I have come privy to hearing some news that sent me into outrage and feeling all melancholy at the same time. I still don't have the proper words to express it, but Durango does. And if that doesn't completely satisfy your curiosity then looking here just might.

On a different spin, and I mention spin because now I'm referring to the Star Telegram. I believe it to be a certain newspaper in the Fort Worth area that just last week failed to mention in their reporting on the Steve Doeung vs Chesapeake case that a rally had taken place on the steps of the courthouse.

Well, my sources from this same courthouse, the County Court at Law in Tarrant County, have just informed me that a reporter from the Star- Telegram was making inquiries. Inquiries about what you ask? Seems that this reporter of the Star-Telegram was wanting a copy of the order that Judge Sprinkle signed condemning Steve's property, among a few other things. Hmmm...didn't the Star-Telegram report that Chesapeake had already won the court case? I suppose that this reporter is now looking for proof to back up his story.

Now, before I go, let me leave you with this one thought. Don't be hearers of the words only, be doers as well. With that said, please look here.

Hope Renewed For Gifts Of Hope...But Not For Steve

I had an amazing weekend full of fun and excitement. Early Saturday morning I baked muffins for a benefit of which the proceeds would be donated to the Hope House in Midland, Texas. The bake sale was part of an all day event taking place in Wink, Texas at the school's fitness center. The event was spectacular and proved to be a huge success!

The KISS party wagon attended providing us with great dance music and the DJ giving updates on the tournament. We had a few young dancers that partook in the day's festive atmosphere. The DJ was also an avid supporter of the benefit and showed this by buying TONS of goodies from the bake sale.

There were nine teams that showed to play in the tournament. Some of our players had to forfeit due to being called out to work, the industry just never takes a break. Jesse, our tourney coordinator also played and has more details to come on just who won and the prizes awarded. I do know that every participant received a very nice T-shirt and gift bag.

On a more somber note, posters in dedication lined the wall of the fitness center reminding all of us that cancer doesn't affect just a few, but that everyone of us is touched by it in some way, either through a friend or relative...or perhaps being a cancer survivor.

Wink is an itty bitty town...maybe only 900 people or so. And yet, these people have the most generous caring giving spirit I've ever had the pleasure to come in contact with. The official count isn't done, but I've been told that the little benefit has raised over $5000 dollars for Hope House. Isn't that amazing?!? Which makes me even sadder when I think about the call I received from Steve Doeung this morning. I'm in a state of melancholy and outrage just thinking about the events that have unfolded...you will be too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

American Citizens Are Unhappy With Chesapeake Energy

Yesterday I didn't get much accomplished outdoors, it was too dang windy! I did however manage to muck up something quite simple, but my computer hero repaired my error and the blunder ended up leading us to an even better solution. I also blogged about a natural gas line explosion in San Antonio which I then made a prediction for those residents on Carter Avenue over in Fort Worth. You see, somehow someway our GOVERNMENT has declared that natural gas and oil companies are synonymous with public utilities. At first glance, you're thinking...so what? What's the big deal? I know, we never see the "full" picture until much later...isn't that always the case? Now, what this means is that Chesapeake (and I'm dropping the last name--Energy) gets the right of way to put natural gas pipelines--again, don't confuse these suckers with the small one inch lines that pipe natural gas to homes for heating and cooking--anywhere they want! Here's a pretty cool comment that my blogging prompted yesterday:

"Nicely put CT/CT. I checked out the report from the local SA tv station and IT BLEW MY MIND--the flame shot up to 3-4 stories high and charred a vehicle parked at least 40-50 yards away. Those homes on Carter Ave. are just 4-10 yards away. Forget about finding evidence and remains if such were to happen. Plus such a major explosion will probably trigger and spread to other pipelines FROM UTILITIES like the 1-inch gas and water pipelines criss-crossing the whole neighborhood. I see why Steve D. had used the expression "insult and injury"--I would feel insulted and denigraded too when realizing that CHK AND THE CITY were viewing my life and those of my children, families, friends and neighbors as expendable--cheap enough to take the "risk" of cramming these down those poor people's throats simply for money and power. Have they no shame or any sense of decency? Do people owning stock, leasing land, and doing any kind of business with this company (and city) know what heartless and inhumane practices they're engaging in? If child labor to make tennis shoes is morally unacceptable, then CHK's conduct on Carter Ave. is......?

I agree with the correlation...if it's immoral to put children at risk by having them manufacture tennis shoes then shouldn't it also be correct in thinking that putting a highly pressurized natural gas pipeline under their tennis shoed feet also be immoral? Gives one something to ponder...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Carter Avenue Foreshadowed

A peaceful San Antonio neighborhood sees it's children off to school on a Wednesday morning. Yards are watered, dishes cleared and washed after breakfast and the usual morning routines are in play. What's so different about this neighborhood from other Texas neighborhoods? Along the public road, below the surface runs a 24" natural gas pipeline. Close to the size that Chesapeake Energy wants and plans on running under the homes on Carter Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas.

The events that transpired at 10:15AM, May 6th in 2009, rocked the Greystone subdivision with a cataclysmic force that not only shut the neighborhood down, but the adjacent streets as well. The gas line exploded. What if, it had been a Saturday morning, and our children were not at school, but playing outside? What if the pipeline was run under the homes instead of along the public road? Can you ever be guaranteed safety in your own home, your yard, the street that you live on?

Accidents do happen. That's why being proactive instead of reactive is the best possible course of action. Why can't Chesapeake Energy, a private natural gas company...NOT A PUBLIC UTILITY...take the alternate route proposed? Why do they insist on running a dangerous, highly pressurized, 16" natural gas pipeline under the homes and children on Carter Avenue? Why do they insist on putting American Citizens lives in danger?

Remember, "We the People" grant what limited power government has. As a society of free people we have lost sight of the fact that we are indeed the ones who have the final say so through the power of free speech and our franchise. We will no longer cowtow to the powers that be in Cow Town.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Anybody Ready For Some Racquetball?

Date: Saturday, 13 March 2010
Registration Fee: $50.00 Per Player
Registration deadline: 03 March 2010
Place: Frank R. Barton Physical Fitness Center, Wink, TX
Event: Double Elimination, Singles Tournament
Prizes: Prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd places. All participants will receive a tournament T-Shirt.
It's not too late to register for the Gifts of Hope, Inc. Racquetball Tournament to be held in Wink on 13 March 2010. If you need more information let me know. If you can't play make sure you come out and enjoy a day of food and fun. 103.3 KISS-FM will do a live-remote broadcast from the Fitness Center in Wink, the ...day of the tournament. Come out and support a great cause!

All proceeds to benefit The Hope House of Midland.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Will You Please Send An Email To Judge Sprinkle?

Honorable Judge Sprinkle,

I implore you to not sign the order allowing/granting Chesapeake eminent domain on Carter Ave. I live in West Texas, I have seen the effects of high pressurized gas lines...explosions that rocked our little town. Chesapeake is not a public utility company, we all know that this is a company that drills for profit. How can the public representatives allow the safety of these people to go unchecked? How can Fort Worth's elected officials grant Chesapeake full and free access to Carter Ave and other neighborhoods when in fact an alternate more viable route is available. Please, I ask humbly...don't sign the order. I was there in the courtroom. I observed Steve fighting for his rights. How unfair that he doesn't have legal representation. Is justice only a protected right of the wealthy? A protected right of only the criminal? Where is justice for those who abide by the law and yet can't afford to hire a lawyer.

Joely Trujillo
Wink, TX 79789

The above is my email to Steve's judge. Yes, I called him Steve's judge. You see, he's the only person in the justice system that can give Steve any assistance. The Institute of Justice won't help...they're afraid of the Big Oil & Gas companies. Local Fort Worth attorneys won't help...they're afraid of the Big Oil & Gas companies, as well. All we have are the words in our heads. Please, take a moment and compose an email...then hit the send button. It's just that easy.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Child's Perspective On Justice

Annie and I waited patiently for our Ft Worth downtown courthouse escort to arrive. While we waited, I finished coloring in the word "representation" on our protest poster and Annie read aloud from her AR book. It wasn't long before our friendly escort arrived and briskly took us to the steps of the courthouse.

A nice group was already on the scene with Steve and his family, holding signs and enticing those around to join in a collective support for Steve. The rally began with all the children present leading of us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

I noticed the children, bundled up in blankets, that very cold morning. Maybe they knew what was at stake. Maybe they understood that the very fabric of our justice system has been weakened by the lure of greed. Maybe those children sensed the anxiety of a father that seeks to protect his home and family from ultimate destruction.

Are we going to allow Chesapeake Energy to hide behind the corrupt and abusive power of eminent domain? Do they get a free pass to run rampant all over Ft Worth? Are we going to sit back and allow Mike Moncrief to continue to collect profits despite the obvious conflict of interest so blatantly displayed?

How will you answer to the children? What will you tell them?

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Journey Towards Justice

Most of my perspective is a bit different from the average adult. My point of view includes that of my nine year old daughter, and honestly...I enjoy observing things through her eyes.

We started preparing for the Carter Avenue Rescue Rally about a week ago, planning our get away and route. We've taken this trip many a time, but never with this type of purpose.

Annie excitedly told her classmates and grandpa that she was going to court to help Steve and Lizzy fight Chesapeake. She wondered if in that fight would water hoses be turned on her and the others. She wondered if she could be in trouble. This is what was troubling. I understand the need to teach history facts, but I believe where we let our children down is that we fail to inform them that through the adversity, change for the better can and does occur. And after years of injustice, when that injustice is met with a righteous collective voice, that the system does indeed change.

Monday, March 1, 2010

May I Have Your Attention Please, There's Gonna Be A Rally!

Here's Steve Doeung and a Silent Partner in their own words describing March 4th's Carter Avenue Rescue Operation Rally.

Nice job Steve! But you know what I'm thinking? Steve's had too many "Silent Partners"...it's time to make some NOISE!