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Thursday, December 1, 2011
I've been exiled in Texas for over a decade now. I've toned down what some perceive as negative things I say about Texas, that some Texans, of the brittle sort, sort of get upset about. The toning down came as I came to understand the reasons things were different here than what I was used to.
I came from a part of America that is a bit more rancorous in verbalizing contrary opinions. In Washington you could pretty much say any critical thing you wanted to about anything without ever having anyone suggest you leave the state by what ever means you arrived.
I've lost track of how many times I've been told by a Texan to get my butt on the north side of the Red River.
An article in the Seattle P-I from way back in 2003 is an example of the different attitude. The article is titled Seattle-bashing takes hold in cyberspace. The article is still online, but some of the links to various websites doing the Seattle bashing are now dead. Like the one to a website called Seattle Sucks.
Now, can you imagine an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram titled Fort Worth bashing takes hold in cyberspace? With links to a website called Fort Worth Sucks.
Now why is that the case? I mean, really, any objective person who is at all well informed knows there is much more that sucks in Fort Worth than what sucks in Seattle.
In Seattle something like the Trinity River Vision could never happen. If a Seattle congresswoman had her unqualified son given the job of running the project, trust me, he would not long have that job. Nor would the congresswoman.
Last week someone calling him or herself Anonymous anonymously made a comment to something I'd blogged which was like a more elevated way of telling me to get north of the Red River. This is what Anonymous said...
Have you ever revealed to your readers why you are exiled here in Texas? Your frequent lamenting about some things Texan and your fond feelings for Washington state do bring that question to mind, you know... Just Curious.
I don't understand why some people think lamenting is such a bad thing. If there were more vocal lamenters in Fort Worth there probably would not be money wasted on something like the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle. And that wasted money might be then spent where real flood control is needed. Like fixing the flooding problem with the deadly Fossil Creek in Haltom City.
Below is a blurb taken from the Lonely Planet Texas book which tries to explain Texas to incoming visitors...
If the USA were a high school, Texas would be the captain of the football team: big, loud, good-looking, strong, street-smart and funny as hell - just don't mess with him. He'd steal your prom date if you let him, and then shake you hand afterwards with his maddening grin. That's the Lone Star State for you - charming, but with an obnoxious streak; larger than life; undeniably vivacious. Visitors find Texas equally confounding and enchanting, and the natives (and quite a few transplants, too) wouldn't have it any other way.
And so the Wild West lives on here, but mostly in attitude. The state's got a serious love-it-or-leave it attitude, with personality to spare, and it's full of people who can't imagine living anywhere else. Is Texas really the center of the world? When you're in Texas, it is. In a country where the distinct identities between states and cities often blur together, Texans won't let you ever forget, for better or worse, that you are deep in the heart of Texas.
That said, trying to typify Texas is like trying to wrestle a pig in mud - it's slippery. In vast generalizations, Austin is alternative Texas, prizing environmental integrity and quality of life. Dallasites are the shoppers and the socialites. In conservative, casual Houston, oil and gas industrialists dine at clubby steakhousees. San Antonio and El Paso are the most Tex-Mexican of the bunch - showplaces of Hispanic culture. These days, outside of the rural areas, computer geek millionaires and fashionistas outnumber rich cattlefolk and ranch hands, though nine-to-five professionals and blue collar workers outnumber both; when it comes down to it, you might see any one of them knocking back a Lone Star in the same dive. All across the state, you'll notice several themes: Spanish is spoken, country music is played, football is sacred, barbecue is eaten, summer is scorching, and for boys and men, peeing outdoors is a God-given right and privilege.
Texans are notoriously friendly. Smiles, laughter, and 'have a nice day' are mandatory - and this is one place you get the sense they mean it. Small talk with strangers is a daily pleasure here. Yet a straightforward and conservative approach to life in much of the state means outward displays of emotion are looked upon as indiscreet. Texans are highly respectful in conversation. 'Sir' and 'ma'am' are used by almost everyone, so it's nice to get into the spirit of things by joining in. Ladies, don't be surprised to be called 'honey,' 'doll' (yes, still!) or 'sugar-pie' by either gender (most people are just being friendly.) Sugar-pie them right back - as long as you're being sincere.