Friday, September 11, 2009

Texas Tornado

I moved to Dekalb, Illinois from Austin, Texas in August of 2009. While in Austin, I was the lead singer for a band called Black Market Revival, I made artwork in the bedroom of my apartment which I exhibited modestly around Texas and I worked for a little company called Apple, designing and troubleshooting wireless networks. ;)

I was born and raised in Texas. As any pure bred Texan will tell you, there is no place like it on Earth. Texans have a sense of pride that runs deep within our veins. It makes us do crazy things like get into bar fights with foreigners (eg. folks from Oklahoma) and tattoo our bodies with Texas flags and "Don't Mess With Texas" slogans. Every respectable Texan has a good pair of boots and a gigantic belt buckle. We love our guns and our football. We wear ten gallon hats and ride horses to work. Twenty foot jackelopes roam freely through our vast ranch lands and oil fields. We warm up our breakfast taquitos on an electric chair, that is, when it's not in use, which means we usually have to use the microwave instead.

The truth is, Texas is not like that at all. Well, for the most part it isn't. I love the folklore and stereotypes associated with being Texan though, except for the one about George Dubbya actually being from there (He was born in New Haven, Connecticut. Blame those guys!). Since moving to Illinois, sometimes I use the stereotypes to my advantage. For example, a couple of drunk guys who tried to crash a house party thrown by me and my room mate (also a texan) were scared off under the pretense that we had guns in the house just because we are from Texas! Sometimes the stereotypes work against me. For instance, people automatically assume that I would know the scores of the last 7 Cowboys games off the top of my head. It's fine, I don't mind that so much.

For all the things that Texas is and for all it represents, nothing is more significant to me than the fact that it was my home. Up until 2 months ago it was the only home I ever knew. I grew up on Tex-mex and real Texas Bar-b-q. In school we studied Texas history and by age ten I'd been on field trips to The Alamo, The San Jacinto Monument and King Ranch. I've drank beer in Luchenbach, strummed my guitar on the stage of Gruene Hall and two stepped at John T Floore's. I've eaten some strange tacos in El Paso, drank margaritas on South Padre and met my idol (Dan Auerbach) at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin. I witessed first hand the great flood of 2002 in San Antonio and also the devastation of Hurricane Ike in Galveston. I've had girlfriends from Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi, just to name a few. I've even been out to Marfa to see Donald Judd and to sit out on the observatory to see the mystery lights.

I was FROM there, man! I really was. So imagine my predicament when I found out I had been accepted to grad school at Northern Illinois University on a full ride. I thought "Holy shit, I just got a full ride to grad school!" Then reality crept in as I realized that going to grad school meant leaving the place I loved most. I mean, I literally have a tattoo on my arm of the State of Texas with a banner that says, "Till Death Do Us Part." I never imagined I would ever leave. My whole family and all of my best friends were in Texas. My home was in Texas. How could I possibly leave it all behind?

I applied to grad school because somewhere down the line I'd like to be a professor. I came to Northern Illinois because I wanted to learn art here. I wanted to be in a place that was so different than what I was used to that it could quite possibly change me. The rural quality of DeKalb, means less distraction from school, but also means I've gotta look for more creative ways to get in trouble. The best part is, even though I'm living in a little farm town, downtown Chicago is only a quick train ride away which gives me access to world class museums and art galleries not to mention countless legendary restaurants and entertainment venues. One minute I could be throwing beer bottles at crop dusters and the next I could be hanging out with Oprah, playing The Grand Prize Game on the Bozo Show.

So the bottom line is I'll be here in Illinois for a while, studying, making art, meeting new people, and seeing things I've never seen before. This blog will be where I will document my experience as a Texas transplant and artist living in the rural city of DeKalb. I'll tell you right now, it's already proving to be much different than what I am used to. This should be interesting.


  1. Bro, I wish you the best up there in the land of the brauts. I know more than anyone to be used to one culture, to leave and have to get used to another. You tend to cling to your roots and embrace the foreign things that are introduced to you that just make sense.

    Who knows, if I can't find a new job in my field... I might just end up there with you. I've been feeling that itch to haul it for quite some time.

    If one thing my father has ever told me has ever rang true, it was, "If you haven't met 100,000 people in your life... You haven't met shit."

    That's coming from a Texan, transformed into a Coonass. From a Coonass to a transformed Texan, those are words to live by. It's not about where you go, its all about who you choose to surround yourself with. that's been my personal motto for years

  2. Welcome to Dekalb and the blogosphere for that matter!