Wednesday, July 31, 2013

From the Gulf

(Galveston Island, 1972. All photos by Blair Pittman via The Atlantic.)

I love this series of photos from Texas in the 1970s that's up right now at The Atlantic's website. Part of it is that we just got back from a weekend getaway to Port Aransas, on the Gulf, which still looks amazingly like these 40-year-old shots of Galveston.

As a kid, sometimes I would ask my mom if I could have a certain toy or watch a TV show, and she would tell me, "No, it's tacky." She wasn't being snobby--she just thought that living a good, beautiful life meant surrounding yourself with good, beautiful things, and lots of the junk that kid-me wanted didn't qualify. My mom was a paradox (we all are) who also loved Coors Light and grew into a devoted NASCAR fan. But when it came to raising me, she emphasized cultivating the beautiful and a sense for the beautiful. And that meant that "the beach" for me growing up was a serene spot with white sand and blue water and no oil rigs on the horizon--we loved the beaches of the east coast, and we travelled to or aspired to travel to nicer beaches outside of the country.

There's a certain level of tackiness to the beaches of the Texas Gulf, and the 1970s were America's tackiest decade. But there's also value in finding beauty in what you've got on hand, in what you can afford--a value my mom absolutely understood--and that's what you get from this series.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nonsecular Girl's "Sermon for Brokenness"

Oscar Wilde: “I drink to separate my body from my soul.”

Casey Fleming's response
Imagine our bodies, healthy or sick or momentarily struggling, as the light of God.
Imagine we might need affliction to illuminate our souls.  (know, in this imagining, the unfairness of such a reality on some, truly sick people)
Imagine we could not have a soul without a body.
Imagine the necessity of Jesus’ human body.
Then the body cannot be a shade of shame or a thing to denounce.  Then the body cannot be a cage, and drinking, dear Oscar Wilde, might be more for marrying our bodies to our souls than separating them.  Then the body has no use for a language of signs and signals and acronyms.
The flesh is the word, the word is the flesh.
Even, and especially, when the flesh is broken.
The whole thing is gorgeous. And it includes readings from Christian Wiman and Mark Doty, two poets with deep connections to Texas.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Texas Barbecue in New York

(Or, more precisely, The New Yorker.)

Sorry about the blog slowdown, readers (all nine and a half of you). I was on my aforementioned road trip through the south which, in the end, actually involved more flying than driving. But I digress. Before I left, I frantically searched my favorite sites for reading material, which I copied and pasted into a word document saved to read for those times (on planes, in non-wifi hotels, etc.) when I wouldn't have internet access.

One of the articles I saved came from The New Yorker's front page, and it was about Snow's Barbecue in Lexington, and their recent shocking coronation as the number 1 barbecue joint in Texas (and therefore the world, sorry John T. Edge). This confused me mightily, because Franklin Barbecue was the one Texas Monthly just named as number one. Snow's was in the top 4.

Eventually I figured out that the article was five years old. Duh. The New Yorker has this weird habit of putting old stuff on their front page--I don't know why. But it was great reading anyway, so I submit it here for y'all.

Again, the link: