Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Newsman Tips His 10-Gallon Hat to the Lone Star State ; in Texas, Fire-Ant Festivals and Rattlesnake Roundups Are Weekend Entertainment, and Many Customers Bring Their Own Knives to Eat Barbecue

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Newsman Tips His 10-Gallon Hat to the Lone Star State ; in Texas, Fire-Ant Festivals and Rattlesnake Roundups Are Weekend Entertainment, and Many Customers Bring Their Own Knives to Eat Barbecue

Article excerpt

He's all sizzle and no steak. All hat and no cattle. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Old-time Texans have a barnful of metaphors to describe their politicians. For a writer, these salty comments are a godsend. When muttered as an aside, they brighten up the dullest story, turning gray shapeless suits into real characters who are just as likely to slap you on the back as they are to stab you there.

It's just one aspect of Texas reporting that I'll miss terribly. After three years as Southwest bureau chief (translation: "reporter"), I'm moving on to a post in that other hot dusty foreign country with spicy food and poisonous snakes: India.

People wonder how I'll handle such an exotic place. I tell them Texas has been plenty exotic, thank you.

Consider Texas politics. The most recent brawl in the Texas Legislature, back in 1974, was described by longtime columnist Molly Ivins as having Democrats and Republicans and other lawmakers hurling insults and fists in the hallowed House chamber, as four legislators sang a barber-shop-quartet tune atop the podium.

In short, Texas is a piece of work.

Visit some barbecue joints, and you might not be offered silverware, because most patrons bring their own pocketknives. Some places still have knives chained to the wall, as a courtesy for the unprepared.

Take a look at the local festivities on any given weekend, and you'll know you're not in Kansas. There are fire-ant festivals, goat-barbecue festivals, and rattlesnake roundups. Menudo cookoffs can be found in almost every sizable town in the state.

Then there's that Austin curiosity called "Eeyore's Birthday." Every spring, at the Vernal Equinox, hundreds of local hippies gather to sing, beat congas, and sway like kelp, all in an attempt to help A. …

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