The deerskin vest on the cover of Where the Road Roams has an interesting story. I had finished the manuscript and was looking to self-publish in a very green way. The process, over a decade ago, was not as accessible as it is now, so I chose a vanity press, Wasteland Press. In a DIY spirit, I decided to create my first book cover. I wanted to have the title character, Dean, walking the road in a grungy manner. I needed a look of the streets to reflect the underworld of the book. Research had involved observing the denizens of the gay neighborhood of the Montrose and its dive bars in Houston, Texas. (People watching is fascinating in that context. I always wonder what drives someone to live the way they do and accept an underworld as their own.) I knew I had to shoot the cover in that neighborhood, but first I needed to look the part. My friend, Josette, and I went to Taxi Taxi, a resale clothes shop on the Westheimer strip, at the time. We used to go there and find unbelievable deals like Calvin Klein shirts, a Carolina Herrera skirt, and faux snakeskin pants, all for a dollar apiece. Yuppies and debutantes from the wealthy community of River Oaks would donate clothes and some would end up in these huge cardboard boxes in front of the store for a sidewalk sale. It was in the recesses of one of these boxes I found the godawful deerskin vest and loved it. I finished off the look for Dean with blue jeans, combat boots, and a muscle shirt. The reason I modeled for the cover was simple necessity of the DIY mandate.
Josette, took the pictures in the alley behind the legendary Numbers Nightclub and I played the part of Dean. Even without identifying the place, its classic punk and new wave vibe shown through in the shots. I knew the alley had the right look for WTRR as I needed a road of sorts to go to the horizon and the alley spanned the distance between two blocks. Parking nearby, we did the photoshoot without disturbance in the middle of a summer afternoon. The pictures were taken using my Canon Powershot A410 digital camera, that I was so proud of when I bought it in 2005 from Foley’s. The wall to the side, in the pictures below, is the back of Numbers, its mural for live music was cropped out of sight. I posed like the street punks I had observed in the Montrose of that time and got a kick out of it. Afterwards, we went out and I stayed in character for shock value. Josette never stopped ribbing me about wearing that deerskin vest.
Numbers has a rich history in the alternative club scene dating back to the late 1970s. The first time I stepped foot on the property was In 1985. I was fourteen and jumped the back patio fence, got a quick look, and was thrown out onto the busy street. Westheimer back then was a car cruising strip with tons of people driving down the way to get on the freeway ramp at the end, speed down 59, and start over again by the Galleria. Chaos reigned and the air had an anything goes charge. Time and gentrification have changed the Montrose, but Numbers remains.The club throughout the years has held a special place in my heart from 1991, when I was of age, till the pandemic present where Numbers is virtually streaming on Twitch (courtesy of DJ Wes Wallace). I highly encourage you to check them out online.
Antisocial feelings in the apocalypse have led me to downplay social media and its ill effects. I am backing away from my internet immersion that was draining my soul with its neverending negativity, misinformation, and doom scrolling. Moving forward, I choose to use the energy to write and create.
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