“I’m from Texas and one of the reasons I like Texas is because there’s no one in control.” — Willie Nelson.
“Doesn’t Texas sometimes seem to resemble a country like Saudi Arabia, with its great heat, its oil wealth, its brimming houses of worship, and its weekly executions?” — Martin Amis, “The Palace of the End,” The Guardian, March 4, 2003
Yes, it’s time once again to see what people are saying about us – outsiders, insiders, critics and people who just don’t know any better. Let’s start with politics, always good for a laugh. “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home.” – State Atty. Gen. (and future Gov.) Greg Abbott. Then there is U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Lubbock who harangued an innocent park ranger in front of TV cameras about a shutdown-shuttered war memorial in Washington, insisting that the ranger and her colleagues should be “ashamed of themselves.” Rep. Neugebauer had voted for the shut-down. U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Dallas cemented Franco-American relations with: “We’re not French. We don’t surrender.” Outgoing (as in leaving, not as in friendly, although he may be) Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told a Tea Party gathering: “I don’t know about you, but Barack Obama ought to be impeached.”
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Sugar Land said that the government is becoming secular because “we stopped realizing that God created this nation, that he wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on biblical principles.” “How can you look at the Texas Legislature and still believe in intelligent design?” — Kinky Friedman. “Crucial to understanding federalism in modern day America is the concept of mobility, or ‘the ability to vote with your feet.’ If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol — don’t come to Texas. If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California.” – Gov. Rick Perry. And this Molly Ivins quote is particularly relevant right now: “Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.”
Blasts from the past: Gov. Perry quoting another governor, Sam Houston, at a Tea Party rally in Austin: “Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.” Next up: “Anyone who has seen the auto factories in Detroit and the oil fields in Texas, knows that Japan lacks the national power for a naval race with America.” — Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Van Horn [Texas] is so healthy, we had to shoot a man to start a cemetery.”– Bill Goynes, who coined this civic slogan for the town. Then he was gunned down during an argument and was the first man buried in the Van Horn cemetery, in 1892.
Where’s the remote? Oprah Winfrey, who has hosted her show in both Houston and Dallas, was asked (in Dallas) which Texas city was the best host. She answered, “Dallas won! If you have a rivalry, Dallas won!”
Keep changing channels. Conan O’Brien (in Dallas): Houston is “650 square miles, all of it comprised of burning garbage piles. Houston’s smog is the eighth worst in the USA, and it’s home to every serial killer that’s alive today. It’s industries are known for pollutin’, and it’s the favorite U.S. city of Vladimir Putin. And here’s my last line, and I don’t mean to be callous, but if you drive near Houston just keep going to Dallas.” No wonder O’Brien got fired.
“Don’t Mess With Texas” Now of world-wide fame, it was born in 1985 when the then Texas Dept. of Transportation (now the cutesy TxDOT) asked two Mad Men, Mike Blair and Tim McClure, to come up with a slogan to stem the $20-million-a-year cost of cleaning up Texas’s highways. McClure, spotting all the trash along a road near his house, remembered his mother telling him that his room was messy. The slogan now ranks up there with Hook ‘Em Horns.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a letter to his brother, Edgar Newton Eisenhower, on Nov. 8, 1954: “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”
This is what Jeff Foxworthy has to say about folks from Texas: “If someone in a Lowe’s store offers you assistance and they don’t work there, you may live in Texas. If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong umber, you may live in Texas. If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Texas.”
ESPN personality Colin Cowherd: “There’s only one side of the argument to be on: Johnny Football created this whole entire mess. Tough talkin’, rigid, all-about-cops-and-laws Texas, all lining up today, defending a law-breaker, who lied to his coach, lied to his teammates, lied to the cops — I thought you were all about accountability in Texas? … And it makes you look like hypocrites.”
“For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.”
― John Steinbeck, “Travels with Charley.” And finally, the final words from James Michener’s “Texas”: “Never forget, son, when you represent Texas, always go first class.”
Ashby is quotable at firstname.lastname@example.org