Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dylan on a Sunday

If you ever go to Houston, better walk right
Keep your hands in your pockets and your gun belts tied
If you're asking for drama, if you're looking for a fight
If you ever go to Houston, boy you better walk right

These lyrics are from Dylan's latest cd, Together Through Life, which drips with Southwestern culture. I listened to it Saturday as I drove from Dallas to Houston (long story). The cd (good, but not one of my favorites) is at home on the river walk or in a taqueria or in a seedy honky-tonk with a neon lone star bottle, half burned out, shining in the window. It sweats like a hot and humid hill country night. And this might be why its not my favorite Dylan work.

Of all possible weather conditions, hot and humid is for me the worst. If hell is a dry heat, I would prefer that to Houston. So, if you want to scare me righteous, the line would be "if you lie, you'll go to Houston." After two Minnesota winters and one in Michigan, I can say with a chest full of conviction that I prefer a northern winter to a south Texas summer. Which is to say, I'd rather thaw my eye balls than endure sweaty underwear all day. (Too much information?). I simply don't understand people who hold the opposite view.

Which is why I'm so puzzled that my friends who either live there, or who have in the past, love Houston. They love it. Last Fall, I spent an evening with my son and some of his friends in downtown Houston, and I have to admit I had a lot of fun. My friends who like it find the cultural life energizing. There's stuff to do, great food, museums, concerts, night life. And for them, sweating, horrendous traffic and sharing a city with George H W Bush is not enough to overwhelm the benefits.

I will say this. Both Houston and Dallas seem pretentious to me (unlike P0rtland or Minneapolis), but at least Houston can pull it off. Pretentious in Dallas is posing. Houston wears it more comfortably. One more thing, and this is big to me, diversity in Dallas plays only as a threat. Houston embraces its cosmopolitan-ism. I am at this moment sitting in a Starbucks near the Galleria, and its one of the most ethnically diverse rooms I've ever had coffee in.

None of Dylan's songs are about a Starbucks in Houston. He's going for belt buckles, wildcatters, accordions, pentecostal manliness, and sweaty, serial romance. And that he delivers. I'll listen to it again as I drive today from Houston to the Dallas airport (long story). But at this point I'm happy that Texas and I are not Together Through Life.


happytheman said...

As David Lemley keeps reminding me. "That's Right (You're Not From Texas"

Redlefty said...

Ha, I'm about four miles south of you right now. Lived here for 11 years so far and no plans to leave, which is saying something for a Midwest boy who never knew real humidity.

But it does take me all weekend to gear up for another week of traffic for the work commute.

Amen to the diversity factor. One thing my family really loves here!

Anonymous said...

Rented a car yesterday here in Houston. Had to be driven to another location to get my cheapie Enterprise guy said he loved Houston and called Dallas the Hollywood of TX. Kinda agree - I live here by choice in my retirement, have traveled to Dallas all my life, lived a gypsy military life and love Houston's cosmopolitan, diverse mix along with the Cajun, western inserts. Walk through the Galleria on a Saturday and you're lucky if you hear a majority of English spoken, especially at Christmas time. You were only a mile or two from me enjoying your Starbucks.

thepriesthood said...

I grew up just outside H-town... Don't miss that degree of heat + humidity. But having endured about 20 summers there, and knowing how proud northerners are about enduring the cold winters, and hearing you say you'd prefer those winters to these summers, doesn't that give me reason to stick out my chest?

Mark Love said...


No doubt you are tough enough. But the humidity has caused a little brain condensation. Otherwise, you;d me working on a master's in missional leadership.