Tuesday, January 8, 2019

After 20 years, my novel Jesus Just Left Chicago is a reality and is now available. I hope you love it.

Life is so short and fleeting. We run through this world so fast that sometimes we don't appreciate those special moments enough.

Today is one of those days I will savor. After almost 20 years of fits and starts, Jesus Just Left Chicago is now available in both print and audio. 

You can get the print version on Amazon here. The audio version is available here.  

Oh, and I have this puppy...

Yes, she is amazing. We named her Dynamo. But back to the book. It is not just the best thing I have ever written, it is one of the best things I have ever read. I am extremely proud of how it turned out. I will be doing a release party and book signing soon, and will be doing signings all over during the next several months. If you like gambling, the mafia, mysticism and mythology, hopefully you will love this.

Now is your chance to get both versions before the official launch. And yes, there will be a sequel at some point later this year and a movie down the road. If you buy the print version online and bring it to any Blitz road show I will be happy to sign it.

It will be available on Apple Books, Kindle, and all over the place any day now. 

I also highly endorse the audio version. Jermaine Every, John Granato, Holly Seymour, Cody Stoots and a kid named Will Faour did an amazing job. I actually got goose bumps listening. 

There are millions of people to thank, and I do that in the acknowledgments, which I have placed at the bottom of this post. But for the most part I just wanted to share this amazing moment with my friends. I appreciate all of you more than you will ever know, and I look forward to us being able to discuss the book once you have read it or listened to it. 

Thank you all for making this dream possible. 

Here are the acknowledgments from the book itself: 


This novel has been in the works for a long, long time. I first wrote it in 1995, had a deal to publish, but it all fell apart for a lot of silly reasons. Then it was supposed to be a movie. Then a book again. So the project went into mothballs for a while. When I picked it back up in 2013, I updated the timeline to include the events of Hurricane Ike and its impact on the Gulf Coast. The result is a better story, and hopefully one you enjoyed.

The concept came to me one night while listening to one of my go-to bands, ZZ Top. The song Jesus Just Left Chicago is one of my all-time favorites. In it, Jesus just left Chicago and is on his way to New Orleans. I might have been drinking at the time, but I was listening one night and wondered where he would go in between and decided he would show up at Sam Houston Race Park and make everyone money, and suddenly the idea came together.

I had written several short stories for my Masters Thesis at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 1989. When I put them together, the themes were all similar -- Houston/Galveston, characters seeking redemption, religion, music, the mafia and of course, gambling. Most of the characters in this novel were born from those stories, as well as a few others I have written over the years. 

Some were published, but many I just wrote for friends while I was grinding away at an 80-hour a week job at the Houston Chronicle. Michael, for instance, was from a short story called “31,” about a hit man who heard music with each kill and associated the two. It was written on an old computer and there were a few printouts for friends, but like most of the others, it is probably lost forever.

So he was reborn in this novel, along with a lot of the other characters. Jesse made appearances in a couple of the earlier stories, and the racetrack theme brought it all together. In the mid-90s, I would spend days at the track with the same table of people, and the concept of the disciples came from there. While none of the characters are based on real life, many of them are compilations of people I have met or stories I have heard.

As far as reality, all of the devastation of Crystal Beach by Hurricane Ike is real, as is Mine That Bird’s win in the Kentucky Derby.

You might have noticed the story moves fast. My writing style was born from 20 years in journalism and heavy influences from the late, incomparable Douglas Adams and Elmore Leonard as well as Michael Moorcock, Dick Francis and Stephen King. I have always tried to live by Leonard’s words: “Try to leave out the part that the readers tend to skip.” I don’t do a lot of deep descriptions, instead allowing for the reader to use imagination to fill in the blanks. The exceptions are the poker and horse racing scenes, where hopefully I was able to paint a picture for those of you who do not participate in either.

Discerning readers will notice some inconsistencies and mistakes. Those are by design, as Louis’ story was written under a haze of alcohol and weed.

I have several new titles in the works, including a sequel (that’s a radio tease). But this story has haunted me and had to be told before I could move on. So now we shall, and look for several new releases soon.

There are too many people to thank, and I don’t want to turn this into an Academy Award acceptance speech, so I will do my best to keep it short.

Thanks to the following:

Cris Rodriguez, a former student of mine and a talented filmmaker whose interest in the film version forced me to finish the novel.

Scott Scully, one of my all time favorite gambling partners who will recognize a lot of the characters.

John McClain, who wrote the foreword for this. He is one of my oldest friends and helped keep me almost sane for 20 years at the Houston Chronicle.

Curt Meyer, a brilliant artist who did the cover work for Acing Racing as well as Jesus.

My father, the late Fred B. Faour, the greatest, funniest man who ever lived. An unbelievably talented journalist and an even better friend. The world is a darker place without him. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about him.

Jeff Sotman, the best gambler I ever knew and a man who was as close to me as my brothers. We lost Jeff way too young. He was always there and helped me through some bleak times. I wished he had lived to see the final version of this.

Eunice Munoz and Big Fish Marketing. She has always believed in me and promoted me, even when I had serious doubts about myself.

David Gow, CEO of Gow Media, for being a great business partner, boss and friend who has always trusted my ideas for the company (including this) and has supported me through thick and thin.

And my family. My mom, Patricia, who could have been the one writing novels if things had gone a little differently; my grandmother, Lucille, who has kept everything I have ever written and every trophy I ever won; my brothers Patrick and John, who have always been there through every success and failure any of us had.

Of course, my son Will, who is a talented writer in his own right, and my daughter Katie, who vows to be more famous than me (she will be).

My awesome in-laws in Canada, Carl and Lois, who have become like an extra set of parents for me, and accepted me even after their daughter married an American.

And finally, most importantly, my wife Valerie, who has always pushed me, believed in me, but also chopped me down if I got too full of myself. So much of my success has been because she convinced me I could actually do it. I doubt this project would have ever happened without her.

Thanks to all of them, as well as those of you who read this book and for some reason are still reading now. I hope you enjoyed it, and hopefully this is just the beginning.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A plea for civility this election season, and why I wholeheartedly support Prop B in Houston

Just a reminder, for my sports takes, please check out SportsMap.com, and please listen to our 
radio show, The Blitz from 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday on ESPN 97.5 and SportsMap 94.1, the 
No. 1 sports show in the city by a wide margin for all of 2018. 

Election day is right around the corner, and we are in the middle of early voting, so this is essentially a stretch where I can’t read Twitter.

(Don’t worry, “stick to sports” guy, there will be a sports take here).

The political landscape in this country is not only divisive, it is dangerous. We have become a society that picks a side and then defends everything it does. Anything I say is right. If you don’t agree with me 100 percent, you are completely wrong. There is no room for anything else.

Let’s be honest here; there is not a politician in the world you agree with 100 percent of the time. If that’s the case, you have a) found a unicorn, b) are lying, c) are too lazy to do any research.

This is not a plea for anyone to vote a certain way (with one exception). This is me begging everyone to actually study the candidates and proposals on the local level, and pick the person that best aligns with what you believe is best for your community as a whole.

There will be many judges on the ballot. These are people who can influence our city on many levels. Take some time to read up on them, learn their credentials and make the choice you think is best. I poll several of my lawyer friends, read up on the candidates and make my decisions that way.

The problem? That takes work. It’s easier to just vote straight ticket and not think. But that’s where we need to start changing.

I have been called everything from a bleeding heart liberal to a right wing gun nut, depending on the issue. And on individual issues? Absolutely, I am one or the other. But is there a real definition for someone who looks at the issues on their merits and then decides where to take a stand based on what is best for all of us? I also try to focus on where I can have a real impact: Local first, state second, national third.

But like a lot of people, I have checked out on politics in general, because we as a society have taken them down a path they were never meant to go. In my mind, politics should be about compromise. I don’t agree with you on everything, but I do on these things. Let’s do them and continue to explore the ones we don’t agree on.

That’s not how it works, though. We are supposed to stake a stand, ignore anyone who disagrees with us, spout hyperbole and belittle the other side. Compromise is weakness. And it doesn’t matter on which extreme of the landscape you sit.

I can be guilty of this, too. Anyone I think is merely parroting one side’s political stances I tend to brand as extremists and ignore what they say. I grew weary of trying to find common ground with them, because there is none. Even if I agree with you 90 percent, that’s never enough.

The reality is that is not an answer, either.

Here is the problem: Political views have been ruined by three key components: Social media, traditional media and sports.

I could write volumes on the first two. But in sports, we pick sides. We support our teams. Our players are better than yours. Our fans are better. You are an idiot or loser if you don’t agree with me. (Or, my personal favorite, ‘looser.’)

In sports, that’s fine. Sports is supposed to be fun. It’s entertainment. It’s an escape. (I told you there was a sports take).

But opinions like that don’t work when we are talking about things that actually matter in our everyday lives. Policies are important. What we discuss shapes our society.

So my plea is simple; let’s start a little at a time by trying to find common ground. By actually looking at what the other person is saying and analyze it without already having our minds made up, issue by issue. Then let’s make the best decision for our community. No, that is not easy. It takes work. But isn’t that better than apathy, and even worse, hyperbole?

If we can’t find that common ground, then it is perfectly acceptable to take a stand for what you believe. In fact, our country was founded on doing just that. But when we are rigid in everything, we accomplish nothing.

I know I am screaming into a wind tunnel here. But if you are still reading, I plan to do just that; take a stand. And I hope I can do it respectfully.

I support Prop B in Houston. The prop will give firefighters equal pay to police. I will start by saying I believe both are criminally underpaid, and we should find other ways to save money than at the expense of these two groups.

But firefighters have not had a raise since 2011. The starting salary is $28,000 a year. At that, a fireman can’t even live in the city he or she is protecting.

Opponents - including Mayor Sylvester Turner - say that passing of the ballot would lead to layoffs and a 30 percent increase in salaries.

Even if that number is accurate, and for the sake of argument we will assume it is, then it would still be less than 5 percent per year for some of the most important people in our community; people who were woefully underpaid to begin with.

Mayor Turner is staunch in his opposition to Prop B. This is where I am supposed to question his motives or intellect. But the truth is, I respect Mayor Turner. I voted for Mayor Turner. He has done a lot in this city I agree with, and some things I disagree with. (Um, about the sex robot brothel ban, Sylvester...sorry, had to inject a little levity).

But I am against him on this one issue. And I am sure there will be others. But that won’t likely stop me from voting for him again.

It’s OK if you agree with the Mayor. In the spirit of fairness, you can (and should) read his take here. I think the city can budget better and make other sacrifices, but I am not the one having to balance all of that.

If you think the public should not be dragged into contract negotiations, I respect that opinion and do not fault it. In fact, in most instances I would agree with you. But I also believe the firefighters have exhausted all possibilities.

And they don’t just fight fires. They pull you out of your car when you are in accident. Their EMTs help you when you are hurt. They are the first responders we deal with most. They risk their lives to save ours. When I had my accident, the first friendly face I saw was HFD. When my former sister in law’s house was struck by lightning in the middle of the night, they were there to put out the fire with lightning bouncing all around them. When I witnessed an accident with a pregnant woman, they calmed her down, pulled her out of the wreckage and got her to the hospital.

I believe they are the backbone of our city and some of the most important people in Houston. And they deserve my support.

And if you choose to vote against it, I understand your opinion. If the public turns it down, I will support them as they find another way to be treated not just fairly, but humanely.

So please, do your own research. Make the best decision for your community and yourself. And I will still respect you either way.

Maybe we can start right there. Was that so hard?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Back on the blog, and a giant bean sparks city on city crime

So since the death of Houstonsportsandstuff.com, there really is no place for fiction or things that have nothing to do with sports. So I will post things that are inappropriate for SportsMap here from time to time. This was inspired by a giant bean.

For some reason, with any controversy these days, we slap a “gate” on the end. And lo and behold, Houston finds itself mired in just such a national quarrel.

Call it “Beangate.”

OK, let’s not. “Gate” is overused and a copycat term, and since the city is basically being accused of doing just that, let’s use something different. In fact, the impetus of all this is a structure called Cloud Gate.

So maybe we will go with something more simple: “Bean angst?”

It all started when Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts got a new statue, a work by British sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor entitled “Cloud Column.” The structure is similar to a work he did for Chicago, “Cloud Gate,” better known as the famous Bean. Chicago’s structure is awesome and a tourist draw. Houston is obviously hoping for some of the same.

(Plus, who doesn’t want a structure from a “Sir?” It adds class and dignity. And who would not want to have Sir in front of their name? Sir Fred Faour. See? It’s a game changer.)

The problem is our good friends in the Windy City are somewhat upset over Houston getting the new work of art, albeit it a vertical version of the Bean. In particular, a reporter named Kim Janssen of the Chicago Tribune is particularly bothered. Janssen did his best to troll the good people of Houston.

Said Janssen: “If being surrounded by a cultureless abyss insufficiently communicates to confused tourists that they are in Houston, the bean’s verticality will therefore act as an additional reminder of their poor life choices.”

Let’s toss in the headline for good measure: “Unoriginal 4th place Houston gets its own bean sculpture... whatever”

And, of course, now Houstonians are in an uproar over being called a “cultureless abyss.”

That qualifies as trash talk? That gets our city up in arms?

I would love to bash Chicago and come to our defense. But in truth, we brought it on ourselves. The headline on the story linked above in Houston? “Move over, Chicago, Houston has a bean now, too.” Yes, one could see why that would be considered “unoriginal.”

Janssen seems more upset that Houston is going to pass Chicago as the third largest city sometime in the next decade. He writes, “the (Houston) metro area gained 94,417 residents in 2017, while the Chicago metro area lost 13,286 residents. If that trend continues, Houston could eclipse Chicago as the nation’s third largest city in the next 10 years.” Bad news, Kim, that trend has been going on for quite some time...Whatever.

I would love to list all the reasons why Houston is not a “cultureless abyss,” but if you live here, you already know them all. (And you won’t find an actual “abyss” in Houston other than the potholes). And I would also love to bash Chicago. But the reality is it’s a great city. I have spent a lot of time there, especially in the past two years. Sure, it has its negatives -- if you fly in via Midway, there is a *67.5 percent chance you will be murdered on the Uber ride to downtown. (*-based on watching episodes of Chicago P.D.). But it’s not like we don’t have our own questionable areas (“Gunspoint,” anyone?)

Millenium Park, home of the original Bean, is awesome and we have nothing like it here. Chicago’s downtown is loaded with excellent restaurants, bars and amazing architecture. It remains the cultural center of the Midwest. The craft beer scene is fantastic. Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s and Gino’s pizza are personally responsible for at least 10 of my pounds.

Of the art we have collected for our home, everything is from Houston except two works, both purchased from a Chicago artists. I have Blackhawks gear I like to wear. So I would be hypocritical to bash the city. And I get the angst. Chicago has always been third fiddle in terms of culture behind New York and Los Angeles, and now some upstart is about to pass them for third largest city. Go cry in your multiple sports titles and terrific beer and food scene, Chicago. And, oh, by the way, you still have a lot of unique structures that no one will ever be able to match. 

And I will not give Houston a pass for the “move over, Chicago” bit. Our fine city has long had an inferiority complex. “Dallas gets a TV show. Wah. Austin gets to be the cool place. Wah. We didn’t get a space shuttle. Wah.”

“We get a bean, too, and can be just like Chicago!” Whatever.

It would also be wrong to make fun of the writer who trolled Houston. That’s what trolls want, right? For you to come after them? Why would I take that bait? After all, his name is Kim. Unless you are Korean or a talented Canadian rocker or actor (Kim Mitchell, Kim Coates), your parents are dooming you to mediocrity at birth. I would never make fun of that.

And there is no way I would mention that a reporter for a major newspaper has less than 4,000 Twitter followers. What has he been covering? Bake sales? Dog walks? Only someone from a cultural abyss would go there. So I won’t.

And there is no way I would bring up that newspapers in general are so desperate for relevance and survival they resort to trolling. That would be unoriginal of me. 

So yes, Houston now has a bean. Should the brilliant work of a famous artist not be displayed because it is similar to something he did elsewhere? Should it just be locked away somewhere? There was a time when imitation was the sincerest form of flattery. Where someone would say, “hey look, they want to be like us. Cool! Thank you!” Instead, we resort to insults.

Then again, maybe you guys are the copycats; trying to steal our inferiority complex. So...Cool! Thank you!


Thursday, July 28, 2016

No, really, the blog is back for real this time...I have no choice

Yeah, yeah, I have said that before. I had been using this for non-sportsy stuff. But as you might know by now, Examiner.com no longer exists, and I need a place to start posting sports takes.
(No big loss. The site was a bitch to post on and I am not sorry to see it go). The only difference now is I will be doing it for free for the time being.

I am looking at some other sites, but until then, I will be posting my Texans/Houston sports articles here and will hopefully be hitting up some more non sports stuff as well. Now that the novel is finished I should have more time to put stupid stuff on here for your entertainment. (Well, hopefully you will be entertained).

So this is basically to let everyone know where they can get my articles now. If you aren't familiar with this blog, well, now you know. I am working on some new fiction that will be appearing here as well and some TV thoughts, music thoughts and other generic stuff. Hopefully you will enjoy it.


We just returned from our yearly trip to Saskatchewan, where as usual we had a nice, relaxing two weeks. Clearwater Lake really is in the middle of nowhere. From Houston, it's a two and a half hour flight to Minneapolis, a two hour flight to Regina, and a four-hour drive to the lake from there. But it is a wonderful, relaxing place. (The photo below is our view from the lake house).

The closest town is Kyle, population 500 (roughly). And yes, the photo below is from one of our few restaurant choices. I don't know why I find it so funny, but I do.

Believe it or not, the Chinese food was really decent. I never got around to trying Heidi's burger.

Anyway, thanks for reading and expect a lot of sports and non sports here starting very soon. Really.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Five TV shows you should be watching...

So there will be no apologies for lack of recent posts or promises to post more. I suck, I know it, no worries. Most of my creative energy goes into the radio show, and most of my spare time has gone into building our audio book business. I had to take a day off from the show to get caught up on this and my other blog, in addition to dealing with some audio book business.

However, I did want to throw out some TV shows you might not know about for binge watching purposes. Banshee is coming back this week, and by now you know that and Game of Thrones are my Nos. 1 and 1A. But if you aren't on the five shows below, you should be...(These aren't in order of preference).

Mr Robot. My good friend Jamin (@rottweiler2000 on twitter, worth a follow) turned me on to this. Best way to describe it? Fight Club, Orphan Black and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo have a threesome and this is their kid. Christian Slater (yeah, remember him?) is amazing. Only one season, but it was outstanding. Drags a little in the middle episodes, but the last four are through the roof.

Tatiana Maslany is my second favorite Canadian. Sexy and a brilliant actress.

Orphan Black. Tatiana Maslany is an amazing Canadian actress who plays several clones. How she hasn't won an emmy is a mystery. Terrific acting, and if you are a sci fi fan, this is a must. First episode is confusing, but if you stick with it, you will fall in love with this show.

Outsiders. I admit it, I had my doubts when WGN was doing a series. But this hillbilly vs. establishment narrative is much better than expected. Solid acting -- very Sons of Anarchy like -- and an interesting plot. Worth the time and effort.

Better Call Saul. If you are a Breaking Bad fan, this is a must. If you aren't? Binge watch Bad and then get on this. Clever, well written and the acting is off the charts. Actually has fewer slow episodes than Bad.

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight. OK, this is out of the genres above, but if you like informed, funny, investigative journalism, this is a must. The current season has focused on more mainstream topics, but past years brought some amazing topics to light. He's funny, topical, down the middle politically and you will learn something each week.

Just missing the list is Vinyl. I was extremely excited about this because it was Martin Scorsese. But it has dragged, become predictable, and is shaping up as a bad Goodfellas. There is still time to salvage it, but they did not have enough subject matter for it to be a TV series. As a 3-hour movie? Would have been awesome.

So that should get you binge watching for a while. And I promise to post more often...never mind.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Launching a new venture

Today marked the birth of a new business, and one that I hope will bring joy to many people and perhaps change the way we absorb information.

I have a new job, one that is part of an exciting future. No, I am not leaving radio. The Blitz will continue to endure for the foreseeable future. However, as part of my new duties at Gow Media, I will also be Executive Director of Gow Media Audio Publications, a new arm of the Gow empire. We will be publishing audio books, easily downloadable to both laptops and mobile devices.

To that end, I am pleased to introduce our first project: An Introduction to Sports Betting, Blitz Style, by myself and A.J. Hoffman. It is an original book available only on audio. This is a key part of our vision for this business, but more on that in a moment.

This particular audio book is for those who are interested in sports betting and want to know more of the terminology and strategies. It is designed for a beginner, but it also has several strategies that will help veteran players as well. We specifically do not want to encourage people to bet who aren't already doing it, but simply help people who are do a better job at it. I am very proud of the project and the people who worked hard to make it happen, specifically A.J., editor/producer Micheal Carrell, our internet genius Brandon Strange and Jorge Ortiz, who has been managing the site and helped get it up and running. Without them, this would not have happened.

As far as what's next....we will be releasing an updated version of my how-to horse racing book, Acing Racing, sometime before the end of the year. We also have an exciting project by Craig Shelton on the history of Houston hip hop, which should be out by Christmas. Of all these projects, only Acing Racing is available in print, and the new version will contain significantly more information than the original.

In January, we will move to phase 2, which is an expansion into several new realms. Children's books. How-to manuals. Autobiographies. We want all original content not available anywhere else. Eventually we hope to do text books and more. The sky is the limit.

We will do some audio versions of already published material, but our main goal is to provide original content that fits better in the audio realm. I do not wish to get people to stop reading. I merely want to take advantage of our vast audio capabilities to bring new, fresh ideas to the public.

We are going to keep the unit costs well below what you would expect to pay for an audio book, simply because our overhead and production costs are much lower as we have all the equipment we need as part of the Gow Media operation. If you have a concept that you think would be well-received, email me at faour975@gmail.com with your idea.

In the interim, if you are interested in sports betting, please check this out for the low, low price of $12.99. It's just under three hours of great information, some of which you have probably heard on our show, but all of it in one place. The link is here. Listen while you work out, or while you are trying to ignore people at work.

I am excited about this particular audio book, but am incredibly fired up about what we will produce in the future. I believe we will bring great information to the public at affordable prices in a medium that is still growing.

I am proud to be a part of Gow Media, and I believe this new venture will change the way we get our information in an ever-changing media world. I hope you will join me in embracing the future.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Auctioning off a piece of Astros history

If you are an Astros fan, you might remember this. It appeared on the front page of the Houston Chronicle on June 1, 2005. We essentially buried the Astros, who were off to a historically bad start. You might also remember they recovered and appeared in the World Series for the only time.

What you are looking at is the original slick page proof. To my knowledge, it is the only one in existence. It is, in essence, the original Astros tombstone and the only one of its kind. It appeared on Fox TV during the World Series. It has been copied and referred to many times since.

It has been sitting in storage, and it's time for it to find a real home.

This is a throwback piece to a day when newspapers were still not just relevant, but the driving force behind journalism. If you want more details on how it came about, check out this article.  It details how I came up with the concept.

This is truly a piece of Houston sports history. I had the original proof framed when I was sports editor of the Chronicle. We often did this with pages we liked or historical moments. This is not newsprint, but a slick version that will hold up over time.

When I resigned, it (along with several other front pages) was a going away gift.

It should go to someone who will appreciate it and understand the historical significance.

To that end, we will be auctioning it off on air Wednesday, June 24 on the Blitz on ESPN 97.5 in Houston. (You can also hear us on espn975.com, tuneinradio and the espn radio app). The auction will take place from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Central time. The call-in number is 713-780-3776. A portion of the proceeds will go to charity -- which charity and how much will be determined by the final price. There is a reserve price on it -- if it doesn't go for a predetermined amount I will keep it and donate it to a deserving home. I'm not looking to get rich. I am hoping to raise some money for a few of my favorite charities. A lot of people have asked about it, so we decided to try this.

The 10-year anniversary happened at the beginning of this month and there was a lot of interest, and enough people remember it that it should be a popular item. The winning bidder will have the option of taking it as is or having it signed by myself and Jose de Jesus Ortiz, who wrote the article. It is truly a collector's item and something that should be on display, not sitting in a storage locker.

If you are interested, tune in to the show on the 24th.