Road trip with Dad to SXSWi

Highway 290 has this grungy smalltown beauty… the little towns are great. I wish I’d gotten a shot of the “hot rods” junk shop.

Lots of cow fields, scraggly-pine scrubland, aging gas stations, tiny downtowns trying to have comebacks as “quaint” – cash infusion with the last couple of years of high oil prices.

Where I lived in Houston used to look kind of like this. on 1960 there were just cow fields, scraggly 2nd-growth pines on top of old swamp, and an occasional metal building with one of those signs with changeable letters, and always a couple of little bobcat tractory tiny bulldozers or something, laying around. Then some 5th-rate strip malls. Then more strip malls came and the big huge Mall mall. My friend Thad in like, 7th grade, wrote a poem called “fake cows” that was about the weird sadness of seeing a couple of farm animals and a shack set amidst the shiny stores and parking lots. Now it’s all paved over and subdivisioned as far as the eye can see.

Dad and I were talking about how one should preserve whatever local character was in a place, while developing it. Instead of building like mad and then faking it and trying to make a fake “main street usa” thing in a mall all developed by the same company. One should have a subdivision perhaps but with the fields of cows or grain elevators integrated and part of the attraction of living there.

But then he pointed out that old main streets also might have felt fake. And whatt you need is layers of inauthenticity piled on top of each other, which is what you always have anyway. Which made me think of the part in Little Town on the Prairie where Laura I. is hating the false fronts of the new town and how there is nothing behind them…

My dad is getting more “liberal” these days.

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