Dear Texas: A Love Letter

Dear Texas: A Love Letter September 24, 2011

Dear Texas,

It’s me, Mark Gordon. Former resident. Frequent visitor. Big fan of SRV, Townes, and Willie. Connoisseur of East Texas barbeque and West Texas landscapes.

Texas, I’m writing because as much as I like you I’m really getting tired of your act. You always say, “Don’t Mess With Texas!”  Okay, but why do you keep messing with the rest of us? What’s got me hotter than a billy goat in a pepper patch is the politicians you insist on sharing with us. You know,  those strutting John Wayne wannabes with their Rapture-ready smirks and itchy trigger fingers. The last one destroyed what was left of America’s moral standing in the world and brought us to financial ruin. The next one, with his army of Dominionist minions, his stack of oil-industry IOU’s and a bad case of Israelophilia … well, he might just mosey into Armageddon with the Third Infantry Division in tow.

Speaking of religion, Texas, please don’t share any more of your preachers either. Trust me, you can keep John Hagee all to yourself. We won’t mind. Same goes for Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, and the whole cohort of reptilian carnival barkers and prayer cloth salesmen. We’ve already seen the sideshow and we’re not buying another ticket. And if you want to put a young-earth creationist in charge of your education system, that’s your business. Hell, the terrain on I-10 between Fort Stockton and Kerrville looks like it was coughed up the day before yesterday. But the rest of us actually like science, and we don’t think it conflicts with our faith.

Texas, everyone knows you’re as full of wind as a corn-fed horse, but despite the boasting you’re not all you’re cracked up to be, are you? You have the highest percentage of citizens without health insurance in the country. You’re in the top five in both income inequality and poverty. You spend less per capita on your citizens than any other state. And you come in 49th in verbal SAT scores and 46th in math.  Texas, you can talk all you want about your sun-baked independence, but you took your share of that Obama stimulus money, didn’t you? Balanced your last two budgets with it. And whenever La Nina gins up a hurricane or wildfire, you belly up to the federal trough with the best of ’em. And by the way, your debt load is growing faster than Uncle Sam’s. 

So let’s face it, Texas, you’re all hat and no cattle. We’ve been friends a long time, and we’ll remain so at least as long as Billy Gibbons lives. But I’m begging you: please stop sharing. Except Austin. You could share Austin. Oh, and some of that barbeque, bless your heart.

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  • brettsalkeld

    Texas comes out looking pretty good here:

    But I’m with you on the next president. 😉

    And you could have included some Catholics in the preachers list.

    • Mark Gordon

      I’d LOVE to include some Catholics. Who’d you have in mind? Mr. Corapi’s not an option anymore.

  • Mark Gordon

    Okay, Brett’s right. Texas does come out pretty good in that clip. And Kelly’s right about Ron Paul.

    While we’re at it, Texas can also boast of our own Kyle Cupp, as well as Mark and Louise Zwiek, founders of my favorite Catholic Worker house, Houston’s Casa Juan Diego!

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

      Hurray for the Houston Catholic Worker!

      • No hurray for me?

      • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

        Okay, Hurray for Kyle!

  • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

    I definitely do not share your enthusiasm for Ron Paul, but I agree, he is not in the same camp as the folks Mark is talking about.

  • Dan

    I remember seeing a video from a security camera in a convenience store in Texas. There were three patrons in the store when a masked gunman ran in and demanded the money from the cashier. All three patrons immediately pulled out their own guns and pointed them at the robber, who promptly surrendered. Love it or hate it, that type of thing can only happen in Texas…

  • Y’all like our Shiner Bock. Admit it.

  • I’m from Texas. I’m irrationally against this post. I’m from Texas.


    • Mark Gordon

      Sam, I didn’t realize you’re from Texas! Another feather in the Stetson for the Lone Star State!

      • Born in Brownsville, Jr and Senior High in Brady and Abilene. Played football, ate brisket, shot deer, danced two-step followed by a cumbia…


      • Mark Gordon

        I’ve been through Abilene a couple times, on my way to El Paso. Now THAT is Texas.

  • digbydolben

    With Texans, it has always seemed to me that there are no moderately dispositioned folks there: the Texan “liberals” are not fakes, as they often are on both coasts, and are kind, compassionate and generous-hearted people, like Bill Moyers, for example. On the other hand, there are the loud, obnoxious and abrasive types who have “virility issues” (like Dubya) and who can’t resist an opportunity for a brawl. The New Mexicans I lived among for seven years would cringe when they’d hear a Texan accent and dreaded the effect of their money on land values and tax rates: the rich (and pseudo-“liberal”) Texans (called “trust babies” by the indigenous) have driven Hispanics whose families had lived in that town for several hundred years out into the outskirting barrios.

    And most of those Texans are, by the way, very very anti-Catholic.

  • The Wilsons as well.

  • Personaly since Perry seems to the most open of the GOP hopefuls that has some sanity as to immigration concerns maybe we should be highlighting that instaed of bashing a whole state and people of different Faiths. But that is just me. Would like too cover our bases

    • Mark Gordon

      I guess I’m just an opinionated Catholic. 🙂

  • Maureen O’Brien

    So far we have had THREE Texan presidents: LBJ; Bush I; Bush II and we have had FOUR wars!

    • Mark Gordon

      At least four, but who’s counting?

  • Anne

    Just in case there are those who don’t know who Townes is or was (I suspect everybody got Mark’s Willie ref, but if not…oh, never mind), see here: It’s a promotional site run by the ex-wife who calls herself the widow….in the time-honored tradition of Hank Williams’ “widda” Audrey. Keep scrolling down until you see the family portrait with halo; it glows. Ah, Texas.

    Van Zandt’s Baptist-bred spiritual sensibilities could get pretty bleak, even for a manic-depressive alcoholic. I don’t know if the lyrics to “Lungs,” a song from the 70s he said had to be screamed, are specifically Texan, but one verse hits home today:

    Jesus was an only son
    And love his only concept.
    Strangers speak in foreign tongues
    And dirty up the doorstep.
    But I for one and you for two
    Don’t have the time for outside.
    Keep your injured looks to you,
    We’ll tell the world that we tried.

    • Mark Gordon

      Thanks, Anne. I had hoped to send people a-googling when they read that reference. Many years ago, Bob Dylan was asked who his favorite songwriter is. He said “Townes Van Zandt,” which put me on the trail. Townes isn’t my favorite songwriter. That’s reserved for Dylan, Leonard Cohen, or maybe even Steve Earle, another product (but not native) of Texas. But to listen once to Van Zandt’s “Tecumseh Valley” is to be smitten for life.