Monday, August 06, 2007

The Largest Honky Tonk In The World

I went to Billy Bob's recently, billed as "the largest honky tonk in the world." I remember it being a huge-ass deal when I was a little girl, and my parents and their friends would get dressed up and go, someone almost always drunk enough by the middle of the night to ride the mechanical bull. I could think of nothing more stupid given up that I had been raised with the tragedy of listening to country music and Buffy Saint Marie. Could hardly stand it when the media took to its urban cowboy phase. And don't even get me started on line dancing to incredibly banal songs like "Achy Breaky Heart." I longed for disco, Tony Manero's Manhattan, to be Marlo Thomas and if that couldn't happen, well, Germaine Greer would work. I could not see the beauty and tragedy of Texas even if I had obtained a lot of its obnoxious attitude, the old Fuck You, I'm From Texas t-shirt attitude, the we were are own country once, that independent spirit that made it possible to go to high school with boys who wore ten-gallon cowboy hats and Wranglers along with boys who wore plaid skirts and safety pins, like something out of a Sex Pistols video. These groups did not mingle, but they did coexist peacefully enough. Texas is a big state, lots of room. That's one thing it has going for it.

It's rare that you love something when you're in it. When I returned to Billy Bob's, it was in the middle of the day, a time when the action is light and there's almost nobody but tourists. You pay a dollar and roam around the big empty space with the great gift shop. There's a ton of posters of people who performed here -- I admit to touching Willie Nelson's picture for good luck. I admitted to myself that I thought it was pretty cool. I could see my parents in their younger incarnations here, dancing and cutting up. Some of the same people still play there until this day. When I stepped out into the bright Texas sun, I smiled. I'm not really that Texan granted. But the sky there looks like nowhere else. It's pretty relentless, the sun is a real pain in the ass. So maybe I'm a little Texan after all.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image. " Joan Didion

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Honky Tonk Girl Loretta Lynn

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!


Pythia3 said...

I love this post! It's amazing how not-so-fond memories can become the very things we cling to when the dust kicks up.
I absolutely love the quote by Joan Didion. Is that taken from her latest book - the one I have not read yet but it sits waiting in my bookcase?
Happy Monday to you :)

Paul said...


the walking man said...

Billy Bob's sounds like the Big Texan Steak house up in Amarillo, the place where if you can eat the whole bull the meal is free but you have to do the potato and salad too.

certificates line the wall of people who ate a king size pot roast disguised as a steak. I was going to try it, but I knew i could never do it because i had been on the road for a bit and my stomach was shrinking so i settled for a regular whatever off the menu, probably the cheapest thing.

And the sun is relentless but it is a decent sun as long as you didn't have hair half way down your back and a beard to your chest then it shone just a little to brightly in the mid 70's.

But It's ok Michelle you left what used to be an independent country for what is now an independent nation called Detroit where we never say "fuck you I'm from Detroit"

We just let the attitude speak for us. Because we have taken it bended it to our will and made it our own, a place like nowhere else on earth; such as it is.



Tim said...

You'd never catch me near a honkey tonk but Texas sounds like it would be a great place to visit. A friend of mine is from there and even though she's been here for 18 years she still misses it terribly.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'll be going to Houston for Thanksgiving. Any tips on what to see?

the walking man said...

The people from New Orleans that are still there might be worth your while Jim

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey everyone! Lindy, you're going to LOVE the new Joan Didion -- the quote comes from an essay, but I read the new one and it's amazing. My favorite novel of hers is Play It As It Lays. Hey Paul and Mark, yeah, I'm a Detroiter now -- it's official, I was just given the gun to the city. :) And Tim, you'd love Texas and you'd have a great time at Billy Bob's if someone great was playing. And Jim, why are you going to Houston?! That city is a pit of hell, not to put to fine a point on it. Of course, they have the best cancer hospital in the U.S. which is a nightmare hellhole, not that I have an opinion. Try to get out of the city and go to Galveston or something!

Charles Gramlich said...

Trap me between disco and the Urban cowboy folks and I'll run screaming into the hills. As someone who could claim at least a bit of a real cowboy legacy I hated the urban cowboy crap.