Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When you say Texas is crazy, do you mean ‘crazy good’ or ‘crazy bad’?

Saying Texas is crazy is like saying Waco is dull or Houston is big. Duh.

This is a crazy-ass place. There’s no doubt about it. It’s as likely that someone will pull out a concealed weapon and stick it in your face as it is that someone will give you the shirt off his back if he thinks you need it. It’s a place of outsized faults and outsized virtues. But it’s not soul-dead and that’s what I like about it. As the Doug Sahm song goes, “You just can’t live in Texas if you don’t have a lot of soul.”

I’ve been outside the state a few times in my life and I can report back to my fellow Texans that people are considerably calmer in other places but they’re considerably less caring. Dispassionate, they call it. Insipid, we call it.

Because this is a place where things stand out in stark detail. It’s hard to hide from the truth when there’s no place to hide. But the truth can be freeing. People here don’t tend to look at X and call it Y. They don’t look at bad actors and call them victims. They don’t look at evil and call it circumstances. Self-reliance is in our DNA, as is contrariness, and both of those can take you far. The gods tend to favor the doers. We know that.

To borrow from one of my favorite Texas writers, Molly Ivins, “Good Lord, Lubbock, Texas! Well, about 88.3 percent of the world there is sky—and if you are used to that—it feels like freedom and everywhere else feels like jail.” It’s an apt description of the entire state. That big Texas sky unites us, humbles us, and breathes life into us.

What do I have to say to those who vilify my home state? Davy Crockett said it best in a note he left when he packed his saddlebags and left Tennessee on his way to Texas, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” Later at the Alamo, Crockett died with his boots on, surrounded by his fellow Texans, people from different backgrounds and races who a had common world view. They desired freedom above all else. They didn’t give up or give it a half-baked effort. They died trying. And that, my friends, is about all we can do in life.

My published novels, The Legend of Juan Miguel and The Passion of Juan Miguel are available on