Do you have “the right stuff”? The mental fortitude of John Glenn, who sat coolly in the Mercury 7 spacecraft Friendship 7 moments before blasting off to orbit the Earth, with a recorded heart rate that never rose above what the average adult might experience while gardening? The physical stamina of Chuck Yeager, who exceeded transonic speed suffering from two broken ribs and emitting no more than what Tom Wolfe noted as a “faint chuckle”?
Last week we provided you with a list of what music was uniquely popular in a couple of dozen Texas towns. That list came courtesy of the streaming service Spotify, which is tracking such musical peculiarities wherever its reach extends: mostly Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, and the more wired cities of Asia.
We scoured the rest of America and the whole world to see if, and where, Texas-based or Texas-bred artists enjoyed pockets of strange popularity, but beyond America, there isn’t that much. Wink, Texas crooner Roy Orbison’s “Penny Arcade” is an American obscurity but a hit overseas. It’s well-received in both Glasgow and Belfast, thanks to its status as an unofficial theme song for the Glasgow Rangers football club.
Back in the mid-aughts, Amazon.com released lists of books and music “uniquely popular” in certain markets, and it made for fascinating reading. Books about the Enron debacle sold particularly well in Houston, which was no surprise, but who knew the people of Galveston had the best music taste in the Houston area?
Amazon stopped publishing that data long ago, but recently Spotify has picked up the mantle. Every two weeks the music-streaming behemoth publishes lists of 100 of “the most distinctively popular songs in [town] relative to the rest of the world.”
Although there are plenty of websites spouting Jade Helm paranoia texts, the true gold mine is on YouTube. To name just a few out of thousands of videos: “Jade Helm FEMA Camp: Walmart Founder Sam Walton TRUTH EXPOSED!”; the Baptist sermon “Upgraded Storm Warning: Jade Helm 15 and Other Signs”; and one of a great many from Austin’s own old paranoiac stand-by Alex Jones: Military Lied! Jade Helm Is Training To Kill Americans Who Resist. But one man’s satirical take on all of these turned into, well, a lot of people’s truth.
There’s no shortage of great music being made in Texas, by Texans: from slide guitars to 808s, from accordions to distortion pedals, the tapestry of Texas includes the traditions of George Strait, Pantera, UGK, At the Drive-In, and Freddy Fender. Today’s burgeoning artists are tomorrow’s legends, and on the Daily Post’s song and video premieres, artists explain why their latest tracks are worthy of your time and attention.
Three years ago, Tony Smith was happily committed to a desk job in finance. But his mind often wandered to childhood adventures in tinkering, like restoring a 1966 Corvette with his dad and learning to use the anvil he received for his twelfth birthday, when he had dreams of becoming a blacksmith. “My day job is a great job, but I wanted to reconnect with the ten-year-old version of myself, who spent all day outside, building forts and working with my hands,” says Smith.
In May 2014 Joe Cotten’s 85-year-old parrot, Oliver, went missing from his backyard. When he received word that the bird, which he believed had been stolen, had been turned in at the Tyler police station, he probably didn’t expect that his trip to retrieve Oliver would end with him in handcuffs.
The first column I wrote for Texas Monthly appeared in the March 2000 issue. The article was titled “Voting Rites,” and I argued that the Voting Rights Act, which Lyndon Johnson had proposed to a joint session of Congress 35 years earlier, was the greatest accomplishment of his presidency.
Of all the founding fathers of Texas, Stephen F. Austin seems the most remote. It is easy to imagine having a drink with Sam Houston, trading stories with Davy Crockett, or backing up Jim Bowie in a fight, but a convivial evening at Austin’s dining table is hard to imagine. He has come down to us as an austere and reserved figure.