Monday, July 06, 2009

The Road Does Not Go on Forever, Nor Does the Party Never End

The congenial Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen,* in a Q&A [not available in its entirety] in the June edition of Texas Highways,** unapologetically describing growing up in southwest Houston, back when gas was cheap and cars were big, the “domestic oil industry” was not an oxymoron and “Sharpstown” was not synonymous with graffiti, ill-maintained apartments and crappy schools*** but rather was considered a nice place to raise the kids:
We [Keen and his sister] grew up during what I call the bright, shining age of Houston, in the late ’50s and ’6os, when the space program was beginning and the oil business was rocking. Anybody who was involved in oil was just the coolest person on the block [his father was a petroleum engineer]. I remember “Go Texan Day” in Houston, which was the first day of the rodeo and the day the Salt Grass Trail Ride would end up in town. I used to keep a picture in my wallet of me when I was about threee, wearing one of those little felt cowboy hats and holding my parents’ hands as we walked down the rodeo to Go Texan Day …

*Who manages to elude critical enshrinement as a Texas legend or sumpin’ ‘cause he’s an Aggie and a nice guy and apparently has no serious substance abuse problems and has yet to be stabbed to death outside of a nightclub, although never say never ’cause there’s still time to work on the last two.

**A publication of the Texas Department of Transportation, the one whose lush color photography always makes everybody and every place in Texas look 2 to 3 times better than he/she/it does in person.

*** Sharpstown, of course, has been getting a worse-than-desaerved rap lately, especially after the killing of police officer Henry Canales, which actually happened on the far edge of Sharpstown, or where S-town bleeds into the Gulfton area, but in fact most of the single-family-home subdivisions in the area are nicely maintained and offer affordable housing for working/middle-class families who can somehow navigate the less-than-stellar public schools. We thought it interesting that Channel 11 could do this report after Canales’ murder on “the decline of Sharpstown”—a two-decade-old story that—without once employing the term “illegal immigration.” Such is the nature of coming to grips with “problems” in Houston.


Anonymous said...

That critical enshrinement thing is a problem with the critics, not REK or the fans.


Anonymous said...

The city lights of Houston are the fiery gates of Hell.