By Jacob Sprecher
It’s earlier than I’d like it to be. Last night’s Terry Malts show was at Club DaDa in Dallas with Real Estate and the Twerps which turned out around 350 people, and the four of us wound up getting quite drunk. At The Drive In was playing a last-minute one-off directly across the street, so the whole scene was quite mad. We wound up crashing at the promoter’s house, a woman named Sydney, just a few blocks outside of Deep Ellum, a neighborhood I’d previously never heard of but quickly came to love. In any case, we were up at 7:30 this morning because Sydney had to leave for work by 8, but we’d all been up drinking till near 3. So now we’re Houston-bound on a beautiful, big-sky Texas morning—I’m just tired.
But Dallas was actually quite the pleasant surprise. The last big piece in my Texan puzzle, I knew that at the very least I would immensely enjoy taking in the history of the JFK assassination, a topic I’ve spent many an hour dissecting. Sure enough, Dealy Plaza was everything I had built it up to be and more; the entire area has been preserved exactly as it looked in November of 1963, with the sixth floor of the famed book depository being used as a museum. I was impressed with how tasteful the whole setup was; Elm Street, for example, has two simple white X marks in the road demarcating the fatal gunshots. It is curious, however, to see tourists run out in the street so they can pose for a picture atop either X with a big smile, as if to say, “Look at me! This is where JFK got his fucking head blown off!” But what can you expect? People are idiots, and what was once an epic tragedy is now a pop culture blip to fat heads that think Ice Road Truckers is history.
Even beyond the JFK site, though, Dallas really did impress me. For one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, the city itself feels sleepy and laidback. Deep Ellum, a historic neighborhood just outside of the downtown, feels distinctly southern in all the right ways while also being entirely hip. I felt at total ease cruising about on an evening walk prior to show time, almost like I’d been there before.
All of this just further drives home the reality that I love Texas. Over the last five years I’ve driven the entire state from the Panhandle to the Gulf and just about everywhere in between. I’ve made three trips to Austin, two to Houston and spent nights on the beach in Galveston. I’ve had the flu in El Paso, where I damn near got swept off the interstate in a flash flood preceded by a dust storm. I’ve had lightning strike no more than 100 yards from my car in Hill Country, and I’ve seen more dead armadillos than I ever needed to. And I really do love it. I’d never want to live here—it’s too conservative—but I can’t help marvel at a place that’s created a country within a country, that’s so full of physical beauty, cultural uniqueness and self-lionizing arrogance that it exists in a suspended state of masterful oblivion. And that’s not doing it proper justice. What can you really say about a state that’s both southwestern and southern to the core that’s neither the Southwest nor the South? Just that it’s Texas, and that it does whatever it wants and doesn’t care what you think. It’s dangerous and wonderful all at the same time.
I have three more Texan days ahead of me and I’m gonna take them in to the fullest. Then it’s off to New Orleans, where I plan on eating my weight in shrimp gumbo and drinking myself into a mighty, sweaty stupor.