“All new states are invested, more or less, by a class of noisy, second-rate men who are always in favor of rash and extreme measures, But Texas was absolutely overrun by such men.”
– Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas
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All the Beasts Upon the Land
We can assume it’s not as big of an emergency item as the transgender toilet law that is driving the Lt. Governor ever closer to the edge of the sanity cracker, but there is apparently an issue regarding humans having sex with animals in Texas. Carol Alvarado, a state rep from Houston, has filed a bill styled with the title, “Relating to the creation of the offense of bestiality.”
Sure, you thought you lived in a world where such a thing was already illegal, didn’t you, or maybe it didn’t need to be outlawed since it was such a repulsive concept. But you forget, this is a big ol’ lonely state, and humans are not easily civilized. If I told you there were eight states in the union where bestiality is not illegal, I’ll bet you could recite their names.
Funny thing, though, there’s a back story to Alvarado’s bill that has nothing to do with the Texas outback. The narrative is that a videotape exists of an individual, who is engaged working in law enforcement, having sex with a dog. (Presumably, off duty. Don’t even want to think about who worked the camera.) Anyway, the D.A. in Harris County was angry because there was no charge that could be filed against the perpetrator. (One assumes nothing consensual could be proved, however.)
There are so many lame, tasteless jokes to be made here (including the ones above) that it takes great restraint to not go for cheap laughs. Don’t expect this publication to consistently hit the high road, though. I believe in the curative power of sarcasm and yuks.
And just to prove to you that there will be an endless supply of potential material, here are two state reps many years ago in the Texas house debating a bill that was to make adult penetration of the anus a Class C misdemeanor. The great American who wrote the law was Warren Chisum, a nascent Shakespeare of the South Plains, who was ready to indict any man “whose aim was bad.”
Have You No Decency, Sir?
Political genius rarely emanates from the aisles of the Ace Hardware store. If you don’t believe that as a truism, consider the specific case of Texas Republican State Representative Kyle Biedermann of Fredericksburg, who, yes, owns an Ace Hardware, and could probably better serve his state by managing the clean up on aisle three. Biedermann, an Islamophobe of the first rank, made his initial act of office as a newly-elected rep to send out a survey questionnaire to 400 Muslim leaders in the state. As mosques are burning to the ground in Texas, Representative Biedermann is working hard to expose the people who worship inside of those structures.
His survey was a grotesquerie of nonsense, an invasion of privacy, and an affront to personal rights of freedom of religion. Biedermann, instead of finding the right screws at his store for your home repair project, is dreaming up ways to harass peaceful, taxpaying citizens of the state, though he says he is trying to stop the spread of “radical Islamic terrorism in Texas.” Only one out of four hundred Muslim leaders who received the survey bothered to answer, but Biedermann held a “Texas Homeland Security” forum his first week in Austin. Biedermann is, as the diplomats like to say, totally without portfolio on this issue. He holds no related committee assignment, has no special expertise, and exhibits no skill beyond fearmongering, (and helping you find just the right color to paint your guest room).
Biedermann’s Gestapo-like inquiries ignore the blatant irony that he once dressed up as a gay Hitler to raise money for a food pantry. No, seriously, that happened. His response to criticism of his attire was even more entertaining than the colorful costume.
“I am not gay and never have been,” he insisted, a bit too energetically, (and as if becoming “un-gay” was an option). “Don’t know anything about Swingers Clubs and have no desire to find out. I have an amazing wife.”
Who said anything about “Swingers Clubs,” dude? And why did you capitalize?
All Wrong. All Wrong. All Wrong.
Let’s just stipulate that Matthew McConaughey is a talented actor and not quite as unevolved as he was when Stewie turned him into a joke on Family Guy. And let’s also acknowledge that movie stars have the obvious rights to express political inclinations. It’s probably not good business, though, because it’s very much like a politician going to a sporting event and getting publicly introduced; usually about half of the people will boo, and they are invariably more vocal than those who cheer.
McConaughey’s popularity undoubtedly took a hit when he told the BBC last week it was time for Americans to “embrace” Trump and be “constructive, no matter how much you disagreed along the way.” This would have been an ill-advised expression of ignorance even if Trump’s only repulsive action was his commentary on strategically grabbing women. But given the disruption and chaos he has sent shuddering through America and the globe, McConaughey appears oblivious to the troubles of our times.
Of course, he is a Texan.
Maybe it’s time for Seth McFarland to once more have little Stewie cut up Matthew a bit.
The Perfume King Remains Positive
The Mexican peso is also feeling ill about American politics. A recent low was a valuation of about five cents USD. Talk of walls and tariffs don’t exactly instill economic confidence. When the peso falters, Mexican shoppers will stop crossing over to buy in Texas border towns, and it hurts on both sides of the river.
Especially in McAllen. The city has made a huge effort to convince American brands to locate retail stores in the area. The shopping center on South 10th St. used to be the second most lucrative in the country. Mexicans also went downtown and bought from Suresh Mansinghani, the “Perfume King,” who has been in business for 35 years. His customer base is 95 percent Mexicans and about a quarter of his revenue has disappeared. But it’s the tenth peso devaluation he’s been through, and he thinks things will be just fine.
He’s never lived through construction of a wall, though, or 20 percent tariffs.
“I’d rather be a fencepost in Texas, than the king of Tennessee.”
– Chris Wall, Texas Singer-Songwriter-Austin.
All the King’s Horses
The political aroma might be even slightly sweeter than the Perfume King is hoping. GOP members of congress are scoffing at the border wall and its costs of about $12 to $15 billion dollars.
Trump is discovering you can’t do everything with an executive order and there are some pesky democratic processes. Anyone can tell the wall is in trouble when Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who sniffs the wind better than one-year old beagle, is expressing his concern.
“I don’t think we’re just going to be able to solve border security with a physical barrier because people can come under, around it and through it.”
Cornyn, it shouldn’t need pointing out, never leads. He always goes along, and he’s never had an original idea or opinion his entire political career. But when Cornyn “expresses concern,” the canary has already died in the coalmine.
“There go my people. I must follow them. For I am their leader.” – Alexandre Ledru-Rollin, 1848 French Revolutionary
Say So About the Peso
My first trip to Mexico City as journalist in 1982 I had no control over the expense account. The bosses had given thousands of dollars to my Spanish-speaking cameraman for us to report on the inauguration of El Presidente Miguel de la Madrid. The Peso was at an historic low and my colleague hit the black market at the airport and converted those American greenbacks to about twenty times their value in the states. He gave me enough money to get a steak dinner that night at the Zona Rosa but I made the mistake of adding mushrooms to my order.
The camera guy (nameless by design here) went to the old market and bought multiple pairs of custom boots. Not sure what his expense report looked like but I had other problems. The mushrooms were tainted and I covered the new president’s speech by siting on the toilet in my hotel room the next day with my notepad and listening to the TV across the room.
Luck Has Nothing to Do with It
Avoiding Jess Herbst’s voice wasn’t easy for a couple of days. She is the courageous mayor of the town of New Hope up in Collin County northeast of Dallas, who began her life as Jeff. Her male persona was a member of that little community’s council when the elected mayor died, and Jeff assumed the job while transitioning to Jess. You’d think this would turn into a horror show of name-calling and discrimination in rural Texas but what makes this state so engaging is its unpredictability. Herbst was overwhelmed with public support. In one radio interview I heard her say, “I’m the luckiest person in the world to be here in New Hope.”
Mayor Herbst is likely not waiting for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to send instructions on where it is okay for her to pee.
First Cowboy Up
No one should be surprised that it was a Texan member of congress to be the first one to publicly begin the conversation about impeaching Donald Trump. U.S. Cong. Joaquin Castro (D) of San Antonio has called upon congress to investigate the president’s instructions to the Department of Homeland Security to ignore a federal judge’s order to stop enforcing the Trump immigration ban.
Castro told Buzzfeed that congress needs to determine if Trump violated the law by ordering a government agency to disobey a federal court. If he did, Castro wants the president censured, and if he does it second time, the congressman, who may run for U.S. Senate, believes the house should bring articles of impeachment against the president for violating the Constitution. There are also questions as to whether the ban is against Muslims and contravenes the Establishment Clause, which prevents the government from creating an environment that shows preference for one religion over another.
Read the fine print in “Two Corinthians.” You’ll understand.
Snakes on a Drain
Finding a snake in your house might be as bad as coming home to a burglar. Hell, maybe worse, but it’s not all that uncommon in Texas. Even more distressing, getting ready to settle down for a comfortable ablution in your bathroom, lifting the lid, and finding a Diamondback Western Rattler coming up through your toilet looking for something plump to strike with its fangs.
The plight of an Abilene homeowner with a rattler rattling around in his porcelain probably got more readership than Super Bowl stories last week. The resident promptly called the local snake removal company, (doesn’t your little town have a snake removal company?), and they came out to discover another 23 rattlers living under the house. Shouldn’t these types of infestations be a disclosure on real estate forms when the house goes on sale?
3 bed, 2 bath, 1800 square feet, 24 rattlesnakes.
“Okay, kids, we sleep in shifts. One of us will always be patrolling the house with a shotgun.”
F**k With Sad Girls
A lot of musicians have talent. Great artists honor their gifts with obsession and practice. They might end up better in the studio as a musician than on stage as a performer. An even lesser number have distinctive voices and can write, and camera presence in the age of video is almost too much to expect.
But send the word out beyond the Sabine and the Red and the Rio Grande to the lesser lands of the Americas that the whole damned deal is wrapped up in the great Bonnie Whitmore. Her vocals strike me as a hybrid of Joplin and Bonnie Raitt but remain uniquely Whitmore’s, and she moves from the sweet melancholia of a folk balladeer to guitar mania and rock with an hypnotic grace. Watch Bonnie and her band perform the title cut of her latest album: “F**k With Sad Girls.”
Between Raitt and Whitmore, you’ll have a hard time deciding the best Bonnie.
One Jersey, One Ranger
Texas is full of apocrypha because it’s always bigger than the truth. The story of “one riot, one ranger” is alleged to be about a Texas ranger sent to deal with a riot of Mexicans on the border. Captain Bill McDonald was supposedly the only ranger dispatched and when his train was met by the border mayor, he was asked why only one ranger had been deployed. McDonald, legend has it, said, “One riot? One Ranger.”
Not true, of course. The story is a twisted version of McDonald being sent to Dallas to stop an illegal prize fight arranged by the famed hanging Judge Roy Bean of Langtry in 1896, and most of the Rangers in Texas were there to see the fight. It was only delayed by relocation to El Paso and then was finally conducted on the other side of the Rio Grande.
There are probably all kinds of Rangers working to find Tom Brady’s missing football jersey. The Lt. Governor of Texas has called the head honcho at the Rangers and asked him to launch an investigation to find number 12’s game jersey, which is certainly bound for a display case at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The real question is: If the perpetrator is reduced to custody, can a prosecutor find twelve jurors in Houston Texans country to convict?
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