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I’ve spent a lot of my adult life defending the state of Texas, where I’m from (as opposed to where I’m “from-from”), especially during the last eight years with W. in office. I usually begin with the refrain, “There are good people there,” before espousing the virtues of the things from home that I still hold dear: big sky, late afternoon thunderstorms that rattle the house and offer a thrilling, momentary reprieve from the summer heat, Tex-Mex, barbeque, and chicken fried steak, not necessarily in that order, the saying of please, thank you, and yes ma’am, football season, the wildflowers that spring up alongside the road, those days spent doing nothing besides drinking iced tea and sitting in the shade, which, in the middle of July, feels something like receiving the universe’s only tender mercy.
I’m not completely sentimental about where I grew up, however, and I also know that that big sky is now choked with the country’s worst pollution, the humid Texas heat is only being made more intolerable and dangerous in every respect by global warming, some of the same people who say please and thank you religiously also believe gays are going to hell (or that there is a hell, for that matter), places where large groups of people gather like football games are often the same places where drunk, hateful idiots feel emboldened enough to openly call someone a gook, spic, nigger, or fag, and there are parts of the state where you still get the feeling that people would like to kill you simply because you look different.
But I don’t want to think that is a significant portion of the population. I know–I’m in a certain amount of denial. But I’m already drowning in my own cynicism on a daily basis, this election has put me and everybody else in an Us vs. Them frame of mind, my parents live in Texas and they are adorable, and it’s too easy to blame certain parts of the country, like Texas, or the South, or the Middle, for all of America’s shameful, small-minded, stupid behavior.
So it was with great dismay that I learned this week that, according to a UT poll, 23% of Texas voters believe Obama is a Muslim. (It goes without saying that I, like so many other people, am first and foremost dumbfounded that “Muslim” has become a slur in this election, but so it has.) A Forbes writer spun this incredible number as less of a mark of ignorance than of the limited way in which polls can be interpreted.
There’s another possibility: McCain supporters using badly conceived polls as political weapons. If you ask people in a hardcore McCain state, a good number of them will says “Yes, Obama is a Muslim” whether they believe it or not, just to get the idea that Obama is a Muslim out there. All’s fair in war and politics, after all.
And I’m willing to believe that. No, amend that. I do believe it. I need to believe it. Because the alternative, that a quarter of Texas voters are actually that small-minded and stupid, hits far too close to home, to my home and how I want to think of it, and, more generally, how I want to think of our greater home, the country we live in.
For the second year running, Miss USA fell on her ass in the Miss Universe pageant. Last night, after being named to the Top 10, Missouri City, Texas-native Crystle Stewart slipped during the evening gown competition:
Is this is some kind of metaphor for America’s standing in the world? (Ms. Stewart finished eighth overall.) Ah well–at least her fall will be good fodder for the future endeavors of Miss USA, a motivational speaker who plans on opening a “character development school” after her reign and is currently working on a book called–I shit you not–”Waiting to Win.”
Over the weekend, a senior at Houston’s Madison High School (Titans QB Vince Young’s alma mater), Marche Taylor (pictured left), was barred from her prom for wearing a revealing dress. When the girl offered to wrap the cape of the dress around her bare midriff, a chaperone told her that she was still not allowed in because she wasn’t wearing underwear (how the chaperone came to this conclusion with certainty, I have no idea). Then Marche argued for a refund on her prom ticket, someone called the popo, and she was led away in handcuffs.
My only problem with her dress has to do with its color, gold with a hint of gangrene, which resembles dried cat vomit. The kind that you don’t find for a day or two until it’s really caked into your upholstery and you have to get that shit steam-cleaned.
That’s why I found it so charming that Marche’s date wore a vest and tie to match her dress, pukey color and all. He’s pictured at right with Marche as she’s getting escorted out of the Sugar Land Marriott in bracelets, in what serves as their prom photo. No charges were filed in the end.
The upshot to all this is that Marche ended up getting what every girl wants from her prom night (but is usually denied): a splashy entrance, a date who doesn’t leave her side, and a night she’ll never forget. Beats the hell outta this.
Over the weekend, our friend Josh sent us a story that went straight to the ever-burgeoning Weird Texan Behavior file: “3 accused of using corpse head to smoke pot.” Apparently 3 teenage boys from a town near where I grew up in north Houston dug up the grave of an 11 year-old child (who died in 1921) and used his skull…as a bong. The Houston Chronicle reported that the cemetery where the body was buried is located in Humble, Texas (pronounced “Umble”) and “believed to be reserved for black veterans and their families.” The skull has not yet been found.
Well, you gotta give these three dudes creativity points. They probably figured that they were thinking outside the box by shunning more traditional makeshift apparatuses like apples, watermelons, and beer cans. And where did they get such unorthodox ideas?
The three boys, all home-schooled, have also been charged in connection with the vehicle break-in. Jones and the juvenile are charged with credit card abuse, while Gonzalez pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor theft…
Now it all makes PERFECT SENSE.
Anyone know why wacky, culty phenomena always seems to turn up in my home state, Texas? Like the Branch Davidians, the polygamists, and now…Paulville? Conventional wisdom has always been that Texas was once its own country and blahblahblah. But that was a long time ago and true for about two seconds (actually 9 years, but, whatevs), and I’m not buying that as an explanation.
I’m also not buying a home anytime soon in Paulville, a new gated community on 50 acres in west Texas designed for Ron Paul supporters and “people that live by the ideals of freedom and liberty.” Although residents of Paulville have the option of living off the grid, there’s nothing else about this arrangement that strikes me as “individualist.” When I, the product of a Texas subdivision, hear the words “gated community,” I think “suburban hell,” “conformist hell,” and “cookie-cutter hell.” Who has ever lived free in a planned development? Who has ever been able to “mind their own business”–to paraphrase Ron Paul–as a member of a co-op? Will Paulville really be able to sidestep the usual gated community issues, like whether or not the color of your house is acceptable, is the quality of your landscaping up to snuff, are your holiday decorations lamer than your neighbor’s, are you keeping up with the Joneses?
The AP wrote a style breakdown of the polygamist wives in Texas this week, concluding “it’s not outlandish to imagine (their) prairie look influencing today’s styles.”
The story also attempted to explain that hair, interviewing “celebrity stylist and salon owner” Ted Gibson on the matter:
“It says ‘I don’t really care very much. I really don’t have time to worry about the way that I look, because I have 20 children,’” Gibson said. “‘He’s going from wife to wife to wife, so why should I look any better than the other ones?’”
Far be it for me to quibble with a celebrity hair guru, but methinks that that shit takes a ton o’ time. I mean, take a hard look at those cotton-candy poufs–who’s getting 80′s big hair flashbacks? That hairstyle is virtually identical to what we Texas girls wore back then whenever we had to bust a sweat but still have our hair “done.” Rather than it saying “I don’t really care very much,” it screams, “I CARE A LOT. THIS HAIR TOOK ME ALL MORNING TO DO PLUS A TOUCH-UP BETWEEN THIRD AND FOURTH PERIOD. AQUA NET IS MY FRIEND. THANK JESUS FOR CLICKER CURLING IRONS.”
And, in some cases, “NO, I’M NOT REALLY A VIRGIN.”
Weird story coming out of my homeland, the Lone Star State: a rattlesnake farmer was busted this week for selling hooch consisting of 10-inch snakes soaked in cheap vodka.
Bob Popplewell, the 63 year-old moonshiner known as “Bayou Bob,” defended his illegal product as an “ancient Asian elixir” and maintained he was simply “catering to some members of the Asian community who like to consume certain animal and insect parts.”
Popplewell added that, to his customers, “It’s almost a spiritual thing.”
Oh sure, Bayou Bob. Blame it on us. And throw in a few vague references to old customs, Eastern medicine, and spirituality. Why didn’t you drop the words “inscrutable” and “Ancient Chinese Secret” while you were at it?
(Psst, Bob…what’s that stuff taste like? Do you ship to California? Can I pay with a Mastercard?–Jen)