Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

December 18, 2013

Larry Lujack is Dead

Filed under: Radio stuff — Janice @ 11:03 pm

First, I have to acknowledge that I got “Best of the Holidailies” for my second Ray Price blog this week. Thank you! That was nice. I didn’t even know I was in a competition, I will try harder now (…ha, maybe).

And I don’t want my blog to be just obituaries (well, that would be AWESOME, but I like writing about other things, too), but Larry Lujack died today. Maybe he’s not know to most of the world, but he was the “Superjock,” the legendary morning man on WLS/Chicago during the heyday of radio when I was a guppy dj wanting to be big time.

This made me think about DJ’s in general. When I was just getting into the world of radio in 1978 and 1979, we would hear about these amazing DJ’s in far-off places like Chicago and San Francisco and LA and Miami. Larry Lujack, John “Records” Landecker, the Greaseman, Dr. Don Rose, Howard Stern, Don Imus, and on and on. If we were lucky, someone would have a cassette tape that was a tape of a tape of a tape that someone had had of some of their best bits. Or maybe it was just a tape of one random morning that a jock taped when he was visiting their town. We would listen in awe to these guys. I still think of bits that I heard on those cassettes (remind me to tell you about Dr. Don’s ‘No, just kiss me’ bit some time).

I recently compiled several big boxes of reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes that I have been hauling around from house to house for 30 years. I would like to get rid of them, but I have to listen to them again and see what I have. A lot of them are these airchecks that I gathered from various places.

We would listen and discuss the airchecks and we all got better in the process. You wouldn’t just listen and laugh, you listened and absorbed and tried variations of their bits. No one in our market had heard these brilliant bits so we could rip them off without worry and try them on the all-night show where no one would hear it if we messed up the punch line or the sound effects. It was on-the-job training of the best kind.

Now, if you want to hear the best DJ in America in real time while they are on the air, their station is streaming and you can hear it. If you can’t listen while they are on the air, their station probably puts their best bits on their website somewhere. Or someone may be a collector and puts their bits on the air. There are full websites dedicated to the old airchecks, too. If you want to hear Larry Lujack in his prime or more recently, you can dial it up in seconds and listen. There are also youtube videos of these jocks working their shows or doing commercials or demonstrating how it is done. The sad thing is… there are so few jocks to teach anymore. It may be an exaggeration, but there aren’t the hundreds of kids clamoring to be rock jocks because the glamour of the rock jock is gone – it seems. No kid is working the all-night shift in Amarillo and trying out accents and bits and elaborate raps in an effort to get to move up to 7 to midnight.

One reason I always liked Larry Lujack was that he was himself on the air. He read stories and had bits and conversations, but he didn’t have characters or accents (or if he did, I don’t remember them). He was just himself and being my own self was something that I thought I could be better than I could act. That’s the only kind of DJ I ever was and Superjock Lujack was a great example to me.

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December 17, 2013

The Little Drummer Boy

Filed under: At home — Janice @ 11:15 pm

I was trying to find something to post and write about tonight. It’s always a matter of “which one,” not “what,” and then I found this priceless memory:


We haven’t been struck by lightning yet, but it still could happen. This was many years ago when we lived in Carrollton. That was our Nativity scene set up on my old radio in the entryway to our home. But since we live in a world of drums, having the little drummer boy in our nativity was very important.

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December 16, 2013

Ray Price, again

Filed under: Music — Janice @ 11:12 pm

Ray Price died today, officially. His son apparently jumped the gun yesterday and posted it and the news organizations of the world printed obituaries. All were retracted and then run today with the extra paragraph about the first errors in reporting his death. Mark has had some Ray Price playing around the house yesterday and today and has taught me more about the Ray Price shuffle, the sound all good drummers adore (and Mark is one of the best at playing it).

And the picture I was seeking finally appeared tonight:


I don’t think I have any audio from that day at all. But good memories. I was wearing my hiking boots because the mud was bad. It had rained a lot that week (in July! unheard of!) and everything was muddy and hard to get to. We were set up in a tent in the backstage area, far away from the stage and the show. But from time to time when the station was going to play a couple or three songs, I would make my way through the mud and slip out into the crowd so I could get a little bit of feel of what was going on on the stage so I could talk about it on the radio. I mean, that’s why I was there, right? I did that a couple of times early in the day, but then, at one point, when I came back to the backstage gate I had been in and out of several times, they would NOT let me back in. Backstage pass or not, I was out of luck. I had to hoof it hard and heavy to another gate and get in that way. I know I barely made it back that time and was huffing and puffing on the microphone. Of course, it made for a good story that I could use on the air.

I’m glad I interviewed Ray Price that day. I don’t remember having any other phenomenal interviews. Since Willie’s show doesn’t happen until midnight at a picnic, I never had him on the air. Yes, he was around. I am sure he was playing with each act, like he does, but I didn’t have him on for some reason or another. I won’t name names, but I mostly interviewed minor players, except for Ray. Lots of acts were delayed because of the traffic trying to get to the picnic. I was fortunate that I had gone out early that morning. I think Toby Keith was one artist that had his bus stuck in the backup for hours and his set time had to change.

But, back to Ray Price. I hope more recognition comes to him now. Yes, it would have been nicer if he had had more of it during his lifetime. At least he had a full career that lasted his entire long life and so many others either didn’t have the long life (Hank) or their career dropped off dramatically before their long life ended (Faron Young). Lefty Frizzell seems to have gotten more respect after he died than before (or maybe that’s just me), but I hope there is even more love coming Ray Price’s way now.

Michael Corcoran, a terrific Austin music writer, wrote a piece about Ray Price this week called “For the Good Times…My Ass.” It is well worth reading to learn more about the man and to see a much better photo of Ray Price taken by my husband, Mark Hays.

I just got off on a tangent of watching YouTube videos of Ray Price and found his induction into the Hall of Fame. It gives you some of the reasons Ray Price was so important in country music. Interesting to see Lyle Lovett on the front row of the CMAs, too. I wish the Hall of Fame inductees still received this kind of recognition each year, but they do not, sadly. Bobby Bare barely got to stand and tip his hat last month. But that is another tangent. This other video of Ray Price is not a great one… just one from someone’s phone at Gruene Hall 7 months ago. But it shows how beautiful his voice was right up until the end. And how he was still putting on a great show.


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December 15, 2013

My Organization and Ray Price

Filed under: Austin,Music,My Job,Radio stuff — Janice @ 11:09 pm

Ray Price is dead. Or Ray Price is not dead. This is one of the weirder cases I’ve seen of someone jumping the gun on a death. Apparently an “official” kind of source (like his son) said, Yes, he is dead, and all the good magazines and news outlets (like Rolling Stone) went with it and printed obituaries. Then someone else came along and said, no, he’s not dead.

Mark took some amazing pictures of Ray Price at a Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic in about 2008, I think. I wasn’t at it. I was driving home from celebrating in Denton listening to it on the radio, though, and it was interesting to hear it and then hear Mark’s version of the disorganized mess it really was.

But today it dawns on me that I interviewed Ray Price back in my radio heyday, too. He was part of Willie’s picnic when it was at Spicewood. I do not know the date on that one, but I’m guessing 2004? 2005? I have put the word out and hope to find out soon.

I hope finding the year will help me find my photos! I think we were a digital world by that time. I know I have many pictures of that day. It was a very muddy mess and I wore true hiking boots because the muck was so thick. I have pictures meeting the Keller Brothers (who later became friends and Mark’s bandmates). I have a picture of me with the South Austin Jug Band with Willie Pipkin, another bandmate of Mark’s. I have a picture of someone from the Grateful Dead being interviewed. And me interviewing Bill Mack, the legendary disc jockey, and a picture of us doing the “grip and grin.” And I know I have a picture of me interviewing Ray Price. No g-n-g of us, but me interviewing him. But I can’t find it.

I hate that my organization is ALWAYS like this. I never can seem to put my hands on THE picture that I want. I hope I can find it before he is really gone. A very nice man. I don’t think the interview was anything special. But I have seen him perform since then and he was still incredible. He was better than either Willie Nelson or Merle Haggard and he was older than both.

December Gardening

Filed under: Bluebonnets,Garden — Janice @ 12:24 am

I am very grateful to live in Austin, Texas (as evidenced by the title of this blog, I suppose). This past week has had us scrambling to protect the tender vegetation when we had some hard freezes, but still, all in all, Decembers can be so nice. We still have green grass and plenty of green plants after several nights of freezes. I liked this picture I took this week:


That is a pot on the fence between our house and the neighbor’s. It is the 3 kinds of plants we have in the garden. There’s a resurrection plant that is frozen. Dead. Gone. Except, it is a resurrection plant so it may come back, but if it doesn’t, there’s enough babies all over the garden to keep the plant going. Also there is a cactus that is not thrilled with the cold weather, but can tolerate it. There’s some sort of superdead branch and I don’t even know what that is. Then there is the bluebonnets! I just love the bluebonnets and I love when they plant themselves in our flowerpots as well as in the garden. As you can see, cold doesn’t bother the bluebonnet and it is happy, green, and just itching to start blooming come March. It won’t be long.

In the background on the right are my dead firebushes. They will come back in the spring and get tall again by August, depending on how much rain we get. But they are always my gauge of whether we have had a hard freeze or not. We had a couple already this year that froze the tips, but this last bunch froze the whole plant. Now I wait for a nice winter day and I will cut all those dead branches down. Meanwhile, on the left is a beautiful green blooming plant. I’ve forgotten what it is, but it is a Texas native I planted in the not too distant past. This year, I am pretty sure.

And in the middle, be sure and notice our unique snowman. He has gone viral again this year and pictures of him are on the internet and all over the world. One drum site has it on its Facebook page and it has over 5000 likes. That is a lot of people. This is his third winter to grace our yard.

December 13, 2013


Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories — Janice @ 9:15 pm

It’s the weekend (almost) and that makes me think of getting the rest of my Christmas cards written and getting my Christmas candies made and going to an office Christmas party tomorrow night (the fun one, not the obligatory one) and Santa. I need to write my letter to Santa. I wonder what I was asking for in 1963? Hairspray maybe?


December 12, 2013

Fabulous Homes

Filed under: Austin — Janice @ 11:20 pm

I got to go to a holiday party tonight at a mansion. I guess they aren’t called mansions anymore, but “big house” doesn’t do it justice. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a house this luxurious… no, yes, I was, that time in Vienna when I toured the Schoenbrunn palace!


I can’t show you a picture of this home, but it was only a couple of years old and was designed by an architect and had so many fabulous rooms and features. Every window and room in the house was big and open and faced west overlooking the western part of Austin and Lake Austin and Pennybacker Bridge. No neighbors in sight at all. No neighbors around to look in either. A fireplace that faced two directions – I’ve always thought that would be the coolest thing. And instead of gas logs in their fireplace, like we have, they had concrete balls of various sizes sitting on a tray of white “sand.” Totally modern. There was a guest house and a swimming pool and a three-car garage. There were imported marble walls in the bath, recovered pine boards on the floors in some rooms, granite countertops, of course, and a fabulous curved wall made of slivers of limestone less than a half-inch wide, some polished, some rough.

The house was lovely, but the hosting couple were even lovelier. I have never been in any of their homes, even though I’ve known them for more than 10 years. I was surprised tonight that this wasn’t a big holiday party for all of their friends and family, it was just a very intimate party for “our” office. In the past we have had a happy hour or a dinner together for Christmas, but we didn’t do it last year and now that the office has gone separate ways, it certainly didn’t seem like we’d have a party this year. That made it extra special that they went to the effort to have us there for a party and a chance to see one another. I work remotely with these folks and rarely see them face-to-face. I began working for these 2 doctors in 2002. I had to stop working for them when I got full-time work in radio again, but when that ended and they took me back I promised I would not quit typing their dictation until they wanted me to quit typing. I’ve been typing with them this second go-round since the beginning of 2008. Wow. Just about to be 6 years. It is a wonderful thing that I can do it remotely. They send me digital audio, I turn it into digital text and send it back to them. It’s a great way to work, but we do miss out on some of that office camaraderie. It is nice to get a taste of it once a year.

December 11, 2013


Filed under: At home,Family,Normal Life — Janice @ 11:46 pm

I know I am jumping all over the place with topics, but YOU try writing every single day! I have many more topics I would like to write about, but so many take thought, preparation, and TIME. I’m writing most of these on the fly and hope that’s okay with the 2.5 people that read it.

I was thinking today about cartoons. The New Yorker posted a cartoon on Facebook of a giant pipeline with deer doing the limbo to get under it. It was amusing. I “clipped it” (modern day version of clipping, I shared it) for my sister because it reminded me of Daddy. Daddy worked for a natural gas company and they put in pipelines and Dad was the surveyor that told them where to put the pipeline. He had a cartoon from the era of the Alaskan pipeline under the glass on his desk. It had the giant pipeline with an igloo and Eskimo woman on one side and a crying baby on the other and her look of bewilderment.

I love cartoons and love the New Yorker cartoons that are so witty. But I do miss clipping cartoons. When I was in my 20s or so, EVERYONE would have a cartoon or two or a dozen on their refrigerator. Some of us would have them taped to the bathroom mirror. Sometimes you’d have them on your office door or bulletin board. When a cartoon resonated, you saved it for yourself, but it let others see your personality, too, by what you chose to keep. These days we pass them on, but they are soon forgotten.

Back in my 20s I put cartoons on my refrigerator. But then I started gluing them into a blank book I had. The book became a diary of the times because I was cutting out cartoons that reflected what was happening in my life. There were cartoons about college graduation and the difficulty of finding a job and lots of cartoons about the single life. I still have the book with all the yellowed cartoons, some with notes about why I thought they were amusing and what was going on in my life at the time.

One of my all time favorite cartoons is such an inside joke that I can’t believe a cartoonist drew it. I have a reputation in my family for remembering when a variety of things happened, some that might be considered dull or unimportant. I regularly remind Mark what anniversary we are celebrating today. I can tell you dates that we moved or bought something or took a trip. The cartoon is The Wizard of Id and one peasant says to another, “It was 12 years ago today that we put in the new steps.” The other peasant says something like, “Your life has been one exciting moment after another.” Doesn’t really matter what the second peasant said, the first peasant is ME!

I may not be as bad (or good) about remembering things as I used to be. Mostly because too many things have happened in my life now to remember them all. But, on that note, I have been sad today because I know it was 7 years ago today that I saw my Dad alive for the last time. He had been in the hospital over a month and had been unconscious most of that time following a cancer/jaw surgery. On the last day I saw him I stopped by the hospital on my way back to Austin (he was in Dallas and I was up there every weekend) because he had had a setback and was back in ICU. But he was lucid and I certainly expected to see him again on Saturday, but he died Friday morning.

So, back to the cartoons… It was a pleasant reminder of Daddy today to see a cartoon that he would have liked. I guess if he were still with us I would have forwarded it to him in an email. Since he isn’t, I’m glad I got this funny reminder of the things that made him happy. I think I’ll put it up on the refrigerator.

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December 10, 2013

Bone Tired

Filed under: At home,My Job — Janice @ 9:54 pm

I hate to be so tired. If I worked all day in a physical job I could understand it, but I sit at a desk in every job I have and it wears me out! So my writing today will conclude with the complaint that I am too tired to write. I’m too tired to even finish my work for the day. That means I will have to be up extra early tomorrow to finish it, I hope, so I am going to go to bed now.

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December 9, 2013

Childhood Foods

Filed under: Family,Food,Garden — Janice @ 11:55 pm

I read an article today about how the smell of childhood comfort foods brings memories back with more vividness than a photo. Duh.

But it got me to thinking about childhood comfort foods of my own. Cinnamon toast is the first thing that comes to mind. I’ve made a thousand slices of cinnamon toast for myself since I was a kid, but they never EVER have the taste and texture of the way Mom made them. White bread, probably real butter or good margarine, sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Maybe being toasted under the flame of a gas broiler helped, too. I know I ate cinnamon toast a lot as a kid (and every year since), but I have the most vivid memory of Mother waking me up one morning. My sister had already gone to school that day, I was 3 or 4, and I must have been tired because I was still asleep. Mother gently woke me up and told me that Captain Kangaroo was on. She had a plate of cinnamon toast for me and the TV tuned to the Captain… sigh… even then I knew I had it good.

From those earliest years when we lived in Amarillo, I also remember Mom’s French fries. Of course they were always good, but I remember them more vividly in that house and they seemed to be more of a treat when we had them there. Kids today don’t even seem to know that you CAN cook your own French fries. You don’t have to rely on what the fast food places call a French fry. I’ll take Mom’s.

And lemon cake. Mom probably has no idea how much I loved her lemon cake. I don’t even think it was something she continued to make that much and I don’t have a recipe for it. But back in the early 60s she had a lemon sheet cake. I remember how good and moist and lemony it was. And then the ants got in it. I remember it sitting on the counter and it had ants and Mother just threw the whole thing in the trash. I was devastated. That was GOOD cake.

Stuffed peppers, homemade tacos, hamburgers, chicken fried steak, corn fresh off the stalk minutes before it was dropped in the boiling water, onions fresh out of the garden sliced and turned into the best onion rings, all the fresh vegetables (that I ate fried mostly), and cinnamon rolls out of a can. Just some of the comfort foods that are coming to mind. Oh, and meat. We lived on a farm. We would have our own cows butchered and we filled the freezer. We’d eat steaks and roast for a while and then work our way down until short ribs were the only things left. There is definitely a difference between good meat and so-so meat. Pizza made from a little box at my grandmother’s. Cream of Wheat at her house. Fresh tomatoes. I even experienced fresh milk— as in still warm from the cow – and real cream and real butter. I would like to try that again. Mom’s chocolate cake and her polka dot cake.

Ohmygod— cherry pie. I just thought of cherry pie. If I could time travel and go back for one plate of one food in my life it would be, hands down, Mom’s cherry pie made with cherries from our cherry trees or from my Aunt Dorothy’s cherry tree, all which were off shoots of my great-grandmother’s cherry trees. Small, sour, delicious. The best cherries in the world and a pie from them was the thing. Mark got to experience one piece of the ultimate cherry pie once. I’ve only had it one time in the last 20 years and I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that I never will. I don’t even attempt cherry pie because anything I make from any kind of store bought or farmer’s market cherry is never ever going to live up to that taste.

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