I will say it again: Steve Blow is an embarrassment to our city. I want you to imagine a well-educated, talented 26-year-old who is trying to decide where she wants to live. Could be a lawyer or a doctor or a writer or an urban planner. She comes to Dallas for a job interview. (God only knows what sort of job interview a writer might have, but just go with me here. Willing suspension of disbelief.) She has dinner in Bishop Arts, she checks out Klyde Warren Park, she has a swim through the Perot, and she thinks, “Wow, Dallas really has a lot going on. This feels like a world-class city.” And then she picks up the newspaper. She reads Steve Blow’s nomination for Texan of the Year, which is Big Tex. I won’t quibble with the choice. Heck, Gordon Keith nominated himself for Texan of the Year. It’s the cornpone execution that drives me nervous. It’s the fact that he’s joking about the nomination — but not really. The thing lies behind a paywall (because gold like this must be protected, don’t you know), so I can’t show you the entire column. But following are some excerpts. Imagine our talented 26-year-old reading this as she tries to decide whether she should live in Dallas or, say, Washington, D.C., where they publish a newspaper that delivers actual writing in fully formed paragraphs.
Blow’s nomination begins thusly:
A public meltdown is not the normal path to becoming the 2012 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.
But there’s the painful Rick Perry “oops” sort of meltdown. And then there’s the spectacular, heart-stirring Big Tex kind of conflagration.
And until we saw him go up in flames, who knew we loved that gawky old cowpoke so much?
So as both an overdue show of appreciation and a big get-well wish, Big Tex deserves to be Texan of the Year.
He’s the toast of Texas. No, wait, scratch that. Let’s just say Big Tex is an outsize neighbor who needs a boost right now.
But there’s another possible explanation for Big Tex going up in flames. It may have been an act of self-immolation.
With that slow drawl of his, we always thought Big Tex was saying he’s Baptist. But maybe he’s been saying “Buddhist.”
And there has been a long history of some Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire to call attention to social and political ills.
With that lofty view, maybe Big Tex saw beyond the fairground fences, out to where the Texas miracle gives way to some of the worst economic conditions in the country.
Texas ranks near the very bottom in home ownership rates, credit scores and household net worth. Texas has the highest percentage of people without health insurance and recently scored the lowest on health care delivery to the poor.
We live in a strange state where both pride and despair are logical emotions.
So maybe the best reason to make Big Tex the Texan of the Year is simply because he’s coming back, better than before but still true to himself.
Big Tex inspires us to believe that Texas can do better, too — and still stay Texas through and through.
My 7-year-old daughter subscribes to Highlights magazine. I swear to you that the writing in that publication is superior to what Steve Blow often publishes.