This past weekend I found a copy of Rosemary Kent's 1981 book The Genuine Texas Handbook at a thrift store off Highway 290. The 224-page golden treasury of Texicana hails from a time when 1980's Urban Cowboy and the oil boom was coloring the worldview of the Lone Star State, for better or worse.
|No tacos, no Geto Boys, no SXSW...|
The book is only a little bit over 30 years old, making it outdated to say the least, but still amazingly prescient in some passages. It's made up of infographics (which is how everyone gets most of their news now anyway) and cute chapters on things that you must know to be a well-adjusted Texan.
The Handbook tackles everything from food, drinking, clothing, shopping, oil, rich people, and everything in between, with a pinch of Texas history and a whole lot of outrageous generalizations.
The Texas the book describes is not the one we know today. This is a genteel, stereotypical, and prosperously white Texas. There are no mentions of upscale cuisine, gays, codeine, pollution, hip-hop, or any minorities beyond Mama Ninfa, border town shop owners, Charley Pride, or Freddy Fender.
So it's like a time capsule, or hanging out with a grandparent who doesn't know that it's 2012. But for all it's shortcomings you can't but feel some sort of demented state pride while holding the book. What other states besides maybe Louisiana and California warrant a "handbook" -- no matter how sarcastic -- for its citizens? More »