Saturday, May 7, 2011


I am a fan of flea markets. It has been my Saturday morning ritual for about 8 years now, I feel out of sorts if I miss a Saturday. My favorite is Ascarate - the old drive in movie theater that became an outdoor flea market. It's huge, full of characters, always bumpin', and loaded with great finds. My home is full of interesting treasures that were mostly scored at El Paso flea markets and thrift stores. I love it when someone says "that's awesome - where did you find it?" My general reply is "flea market, for $3.00."

Today was extra great, I found 4 plates that totally match the set we use at home, now we have 8, a pair of old cowboy boots that fit perfectly, and The Band's greatest hits in the form of an LP - all for $10.00. Yes!

The flea markets are one of the things I love so much about El Paso - down to earth folks who just want to make a buck, they're willing to make deals and are pretty damn nice when they do. To make it extra special, you can even grab a burrito, licuado, and buy kick-ass produce for cheap.

Maybe, when I'm old I can set up a space at Ascarate, with a canopy and wear a hat that has a mini-umbrella at top (that I purchases at the flea market) and sell the stuff I've picked up over the years. Maybe.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ian Alexander Munoz

It's Val, mom to Max and Ian.

I found one of my favorite pictures of Ian and since I posted about Max, I thought I should share a little something about Ian, my 16 year old angst ridden teenager.

Ian was the coolest little boy. He has always been a huge fan of music, he liked Donovan and used to play Season of the Witch over and over on a little toy cassette player. Strange choice of song for a 4 year old, but that's Ian. He went through a huge oldies phase, lots of Delfonics and Brenton wood. He even dressed like a cholo for a while, El Guero. But, he moved on and got into the Misfits and learned to play the drums.  Ian and Max were in a band called the Super Satanic Sea Monkeys, they did a mean cover of Die, Die My Darling and Skulls. The Super Satanic Sea Monkeys broke up due to creative differences. It may be a scientific thing, brothers + band = break-up.

Ian has this thing against restaurants that aren't Chico's Tacos or McDonalds. He was super pissed when we went to Crave for dinner one evening. He sulked, whined, kissed his teeth. But then something magical happened, he angrily took a bite of his sandwich, had a few fries, and then...quiet. He ate his food, smiled, enjoyed dessert, and I captured the moment. Proof that he can still be the coolest boy ever.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Drums: All We Need is Just a Little Patience (and mad dedication)

Hi, it's Marina. I had my first El Paso drum lesson from a super cool and super patient fellow named Blake.  Some people, no matter how young they actually are, are old souls. Blake is an old soul. To be blessed with that kind of patience and eloquence and to be able to transmit that cool-calm-wise energy to others is a gift.  I thank Blake tremendously for taking me on.

Rock Camp gave me the power of knowing that yes, I can play drums. Blake is giving me the power to think about the sound I want to make and then make it happen. Sounds easy, but getting all of my limbs to talk to each other is really complicated. He said something that makes a ton of sense: good drummers are good not because they get all fancy, they're good because they are confident and in control, no matter how simple or complicated the beat.  Watching drummers, I think that all the sweating comes not so much from actually playing, but from all the thinking that goes into being a bad ass on the drums.

The plan is this: Blake comes over once a week for a lesson, I spend the rest of the week practicing my butt off.  At the moment, it's all about practicing to move my limbs at different times.  He gave me a few beats that were simple and I was able to do, but then we found one that had me stumbling all over the place.  It is now my job to practice until I don't stumble--but it doesn't stop there. It's to practice that beat until it feels natural.  So here I go...

Here's my Franken Kit being kept company by our cats Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie. My kit is missing a few pieces (notice I'm using a crash as my high hat), but it's a good kit for where I'm at. Note: I will NEVER be that drummer with monkey bars.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Junkyard Willie Makes the Move to Texas

Hi! It's Valerie. I'm excited to announce that we have a new addition to our family. His name is Willie and he is one cool dog! We brought Willie back with us from Tulsa, where he was rescued from a life in and out of a junkyard and the streets. Willie has a huge scar from a wound that was the result of getting his head stuck in a fence - you can tell that this dude has had a rough life. But, now he joins the Munoz/Reynolds clan and I think life is going to be pretty good for our new boy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tom Lea's House

Marina here again. My interest in Tom Lea--artist, painter, war correspondent, El Paso resident, etc.,doesn't come so much from admiration for his work. Truth be told, I'm mad about one of his paintings and one painting only, the others are great because he was actually there--present in all the places and situations he painted--aesthetically speaking, none of the speak to me like Sarah does, and that's cool, art is subjective and we can like and dislike whatever we please.

My favorite Tom Lea painting is Sarah in the Summertime.  Seeing this painting in person is a beautiful experience. I volunteer with the FEMAP Foundation, and back in the day, they officed out of the same space as the Adair Margo Gallery.  They had a Tom Lea show and I'd go into the gallery to spend time with Sarah. Tom Lea's legacy is grand and if you'd like to learn more, you can click here to visit the Tom Lea Institue web page.

My curiosity was peaked when I learned that Tom Lea lived in my neighborhood and that his house is still owned by his estate. While I believe it's vacant, they keep it well maintaned.  I knew he lived on Savannah Street and for a while there, I would drive up and down that street guessing which house was Lea's. I guess it's because he was an artist that I expected him to live in some sort of "stand out" house. But no, he lived in a normal house on a normal street just like the rest of us.  Below is a photo of his house/studio.  I think it's cool that one of the bushes looks like Texas. 
 Tom Lea's home/studio on Savannah St. in El Paso
Sarah in the Summertime. If I had 5 million dollars, I'd buy this painting.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Road to Rock and Roll Drumhood

Hi, it's Marina. A few years back my husband and I had the great fortune of being in Austin to witness a Girls Rock Camp Showcase. It wasn’t planned, it just so happened that we were in town and our friend Spike invited us to the showcase not only to support the young ladies that were about to make their stage debut, but to also support our friend Esme, a cool gal and volunteer at Girls Rock Camp.  That experience was mind-blowing to say the least. 
To think that in the course of one week, most of these girls (ages 10-18, some younger) had picked up an instrument for the first time,  learned to play it, formed a band, wrote an original tune and then performed it on stage as the Righteous  Rock Babes was amazing.  The support and vibe in the room was just as impressive as the girls on stage.  That’s the moment I knew it wasn’t too late. I, too, would become a rock and roll drummer.
We came back home to El Paso and soon another sign that rock and roll drumming was in my future--A local drummer had a kit for sale for real cheap.  I now had met another right of drummer passage, a drum key on my key chain. Adam, the guy I bought the kit from gave it to me in a way that made me feel like I had just graduated or been knighted or something. I took this “Franken kit,” home and Adam helped me set it up in our guest room where it ended up sitting looking all cool and lonely.  Truth be told, I was a bit afraid of it. I just wanted to assume my “throne” and be able to magically play the thing. That wasn’t happening.
Fast forward to a few months ago when my friend Laurie from Austin posted something about Ladies Rock Camp, a rock camp for women that Girls Rock Austin puts on once a year to raise funds for Girls Rock Camp.  It was a no brainer, and another sign—Ladies Rock Camp was to take place during my birthday weekend.  I quickly went to my husband and said, “This is what I would like for my birthday.” The idea that I would finally learn to play drums, form a band, write a song and perform it in the course of three days seemed daunting. That soon faded after the first day.
We arrived to camp and became quick friends, I guess that’s what happens when you’re an older group of like minded ladies with no time for the “too cool for school” attitude.  Every woman there had a desired instrument and every one of us had our wish granted, and to top it off, there would be a two drummer band.  They split us into groups based on our instrument and off we went to lessons.  We had the good fortune of being taught by a bad ass lady drummer named Melodie Zapata. 
Right away, she made us feel at ease with our kits and had us playing in no time. Somehow, the fear and intimidation I had fell to the wayside the moment we started playing.  From that moment on, I knew that I’d be able to do this.  She broke it down to a level that made sense. Drumming is just a basic beat intercepted by fills—we even learned the Phil fill (can you sing, “I can feel it calling in the air at night”?…if so, pretty soon you’ll arrive at the Phil fill) you glue them together and pretty soon you have yourself a song.  Turns out you can ride on anything, as soon as I figured that out, I knew I’d be riding the floor tom.
We were formed into bands and off we went.  I would be playing with Sydney on bass, Felicia on guitar, and Amanda on vocals. We’d get a jumpstart on our song with help from the lovely and talented Americana artist Idgy Vaughn, winner of the Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Competition.  It was a stream of consciousness thing. We each wrote something, traded several times and then circled the things that stood out.  For us it was Keanu Reeves.
We got on the Keanu wave and rode it.  Our song was called Keanu Wave and our band would be called Wyld Stallion, we gave ourselves a German twist and officially called ourselves Wilde Hangshtuh. All the references were there, Bill and Ted, River’s Edge, sad sandwich photos and our climax point that broke on “Point Break!!!” I should back track and say that we spent the other half of our first day writing our song and putting it together.
Second day of rock camp entailed more lessons with Melodie, discovery of even more beats, and more band practice.  Our song grew tremendously from day one to day two and it was incredible to all of us how it was all “happening.” Here we were playing instruments we were all new at (Sydney, our bass player is actually a drummer which really helped me to keep time—it’s good when your bass and your drums play nice), piecing a song together, adding lyrics, harmonizing back up vocals, trying out new sounds, etc.  By the end of day two we were fried, but confident. We still had no end to our song.  Day three was looming and we’d only have half a day to finish our song, do a run through performance and play a show at Cheer Up Charlie’s.
Day three arrived and we found our end! We’d go out on a build up and kill it. We even decided to project “Point Break” during our performance.  Amanda, our lead singer sported the most awesome gold lame dress and we were ready to rock.  And we did, and so did all the other Lady groups.  Sharing the stage with us were bands Mad and the Albrights (the two drummer band), The Skorts, Splosh, Red Headed Step Daughters, and Ladies Room who wowed us with two songs—their original and a cover of Dave Edmunds’ “I Hear You Knocking.”
It was so cool; our Austin contingency of friends was there along with all the ladies that mentored us at Rock Camp and the friends and families of all the local ladies in camp. Also present was our band coach—each band was assigned a cool lady rocker to help us get through our song.  Our coach was Deb a total bad ass who plays in a Guns and Roses tribute band called Paradise Titty as well as another band whose name escapes me (of course it would escape me, Paradise Titty is too good to forget).
We made good friends, were empowered through rock and roll and I set up my first of many El Paso drum lessons to come before the night was over.  I’m gonna keep riding this Keanu wave into rock and roll drumhood.

 Band Practice
 Kickin it at the show with our fabulous front-woman in an even more fabulous gold dress.
Ladies Rock Camp Showcase Band List. We were 5th in line.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Want to Marry Greek Yogurt

Marina is a fan of yogurt, she loves it, treats it as a dessert. I, on the other hand, could care less about it. That was until I decided to try The Greek Gods yogurt and fell in love. This stuff promotes good digestive health, and leads your body's defenses against a number of ailments. Greek Yogurt is a strained yogurt made with cow's milk or goat's milk and usually contains between 9%-10% milk fat, whereas typical whole milk varieties of yogurt found in your local grocer generally don't exceed 3.5% milk fat. The higher milk fat and unique manufacturing process give it a much smoother body, and it’s so much creamier than yogurts. As a matter of fact, I’m out and will be heading out to get more, because I’m Jonesing. 

Do it, head out to Sun Harvest and pick up a few containers today, you won’t be sorry.