Chapter 15
Seriously, Another Texas Cultural Moment
01a - Introduction
01b - The Mysterious Ski Rack
01c - Wheres the Other Half of That Moose
01d - Scorpions Scorpio
01e - The Waiter Who Didnt Yall
02a - Can I Get a Diet Soda
02b - Riding Into the Sunrise
03 - Modesty at Any Price
04 - Driving Down to Houston
05a - What Does That Sign Say
05b - The State Tree
05c - They Call It the Sunbelt
05d - Just Follow Your Nose
06 - The New House
07a - Billboards
07b - Billboards Again
08 - Stereo Upgrade
09 - Local Wineries
10 - Unintentionally Left Blank
11 - CBW in TX
12 - Ice House Radio
13 - Goats and Cotton
14 - Dig We Must
15 - Dan Moody
16 - Dry Heat
17 - Dead Animals We Have Known
18a - Bookstore Culture
18b - On the Open Road
19 - Weather
20 - Sightings in Bertram and Buchanan
21 - Too Many Birds
22 - Road Hazards
23 - Sightings To And From Houston
24 - The Great Wall of Train
25 - In the Heat of the Day
26 - Bite Me
27 - Bid on This Skeleton
28 - Willie Al Fresco
29 - Rural Countryside
30 - SUV SUX!
31 - Kinky on the Texas Monthly Hour
32 - Strange Yellow Sky
33 - Football is a Serious Enterprise in Texas
34 - Remember the Alamoo!
35 - What Was That on the Radio
36 - Trip to Houston Through Small Towns
37 - Shoe Story
38 - Unintended Fireworks
39 - Flash Flood Warning
40 - Sin City
41 - Live Music in Austin But Not in Clubs
42 - Fear of Overpass
43 - The Big Sneezy
44 - New Texas
45 - Front Ended by the French Fry Mobile
46 - Dirt Farm
47 - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2008
48 - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2009
49 - Central Time Sucks
50 - Temple Texas
51 - Christmas in Austin
52 - Pennants in the Wind
53 - The Road Less Traveled
54 - Texas-size Thunderstorm
55 - Cool Van
56 - Your New House is That-A-Way
57 - CSI Austin
58 - New MTV Game Show
59 - Equine Technology
60 - Look at That Prairie
61 - Get Your Water Here
62 - Corporate Anniversaries
63 - College Sprawl
64 - Hire These Guys
65 - Preparing for Winter
66 - Careful What You Overhear
67 - Bonnie Raitt
68 - Perfume
69 - Questionable Skills
70 - All-American Day
71 - Read Me
72 - Weird Fog
73 - Overpackaged Food
74 - What Town Was That
75 - Texas Book Festival 2010
76 - Bulletproof Roof
77 - The Oldest Photo
78 - Cheesesteaks Part 1
79 - Cheesesteaks Part 2
80 - Sure We Got Culture
81 - A Message to Gyno-Americans
82 - The cathedral of Junk

You can't do that!

A few weeks ago, on one of our afternoon explorations, we happened on the Monument Diner in Georgetown, Texas. This is a small, historic town, filled with great old houses and a college. The diner's parking lot was jammed, and more cars were coming in all the time. Using Ms T's time-tested theory of diners, this was clearly the place to stop. And it was. We will go back.

On the way out, I noticed a poster advertising a play to be performed locally several weeks hence, "You Can't Do That, Dan Moody!" to be performed at the Georgetown city hall. The poster said that this was the story of the trial of several Klansmen back in the Twenties, being performed on the anniversary of the event. Sounded interesting. We took down the number and called for tickets. And we went to the last performance of this year.

The story is a little deeper than we gathered from the poster. Back in the Twenties, the KKK was really on an upsurge, signing up five million (!) members nationwide, including lots and lots in Texas. Beatings and even murders were common. Well, the local prosecutor, Dan Moody, stood against the tide. He tried and convicted four Klan members in the case of a beating in 1923. This was the first successful prosecution of any Klan violence in the United States, and apparently marked a real turning point of public opinion against the Klan. Mr. Moody continued his distinguished career as the youngest D.A., the youngest Attorney General, and the youngest Governor of Texas.

Oh, and the play is enacted in the same courtroom where the trial took place, and on the anniversary of the trial. I am always a sucker for historic places. The battle re-enactments in Lexington and Concord give me chills. So did this. The story is a matter of considerable local pride, as you can imagine (except maybe among remaining members of the local Klan, if there are any still). The current D.A. wrote a book about it. Then he and the director of the local theater group wrote a play from the book, and started performing it on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the trial, in 1998. From what we saw, the audience pours in in Caddies, Jags, Mercedes, one Pontiac (us), and SUVs and pickups, and the shows are SRO. And deserve to be.

Lest we leave anyone with the impression that this is a somber spectacle, remember that even Shakespeare inserted comic relief into his tragedies. In one scene, the reporter from New York complains to his editor that "These people down here don't speak English" (all this said in a thick Brooklyn accent, of course; or rather the local Texans' impression of what a NY accent would sound like if they could pronounce it). The bailiff offers to teach him how to pronounce the local lingo so he'll fit in better. The name of the town, he insists, is four syllables. Joe. Urge. Tie. On. You know, like your friend Joe has an urge to tie one on. Joe Urge Tie On. Joe-Urge-Tie-On. JoeUrgeTieOn. And if you pronounce that at just the right speed, well, you'll sound like you belong here.


Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, Richard Landau. All rights reserved.