TEXAS TACKY

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It is not Yankee rudeness to refer to some things in Texas as being Tacky. Many Texans are perfectly cognizant of how there are some things Texan that can be a bit Tacky. There is tackiness all over the U.S. and the World, Texas holds no monopoly on Tacky. But Texans do seem to have raised Tacky to some sort of art form. Texans are very creatively Tacky. Witness the toilet bean bowl, the yard art, the plywood/tin can skyscraper and other examples below as just a few examples of Texas Tacky.

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This sign was seen in Grapevine on 10-04-02 in an apparently not dry town in Texas. This sign seems both a bit tacky and a bit amusing as it seems to be indicating the store is giving 'beer to all our heroes...'

UPDATE: As of 6-30-07 this reader board remains as shown here.

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The artwork you see to the left was spotted decorating the yard of a house deep in the heart of Texas. No. This is not some sort of civic project like Pegasus in Dallas, or Pigs in Seattle, or Cows in Houston. It is obviously politically incorrect, even to the eyes of a non-native Texan. What self respecting Texan would have a Holstein in their yard instead of a Longhorn?


g5.jpg (30646 bytes) There is no denying that this is an example of Texas Tacky. However it was part of a totally non-tacky Texas event, that being General Granbury's Birthday in Granbury.


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The maybe soon to be New New Isis. Maybe.
Above is a photo of the New New Isis taken September 6, 2007, 3 months after the email on the right was received. Apparently the project is still in the architectural phase of the renovation. We'll check in again in a few months.

THE FORT WORTH STOCKYARDS

The example of Texas Tacky to your left is in Fort Worth's Stockyards. There is an abandoned theater on Main Street in the heart of the Stockyard's 'Historical District' called, ironically, the 'New Isis'. This theater appears to have long been abandoned, broken windows covered with plywood as per the Fort Worth standard for abandoned buildings. To add to the tackiness semi-current messages are put on the marquee. On one side the sign says 'Welcome to the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards', while the other side announces 'Christmas in the Stockyards', which would be fine, except this sign still says this, on the first day of spring, 2002, well after Christmas. It is difficult to understand how a major city would allow such an eyesore to exist in the heart of its main claim to tourist fame. Particularly an eyesore with such renovation possibilities. Where is the civic pride? Perhaps a city government group could be sent to other towns to see how they manage to fix such problems. Any of the tourist towns in Washington state would suffice, or any of the tourist towns on Highway 49 in California. Or any of the tourist towns in Colorado, Utah, Arizona or New Mexico. Or just stay in Texas and find out how the town of Archer City managed to renovate their town's famous theater.

UPDATE: In fall of 2005 the reader board on the ISIS was changed to indicate the eyesore was going to be re-modeled. The re-modeling does not appear to be underway.

UPDATE 2: June 7, 2007 we received the following email:

From: Robert Adams
To: feedback
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2007 10:40 PM
Subject: The New Isis Theater

Dear Tacky Texas,

As an FYI - The New Isis Theater is currently in the architectural phase of renovation. This will probably take 3-4 months and the renovation approximately 14-16 months. Hopefully we can achieve a look which will remove us from your expertly crafted list of Stockyard buildings in need of repair. You could be very helpful in this process by informing your web viewers that the original seats from the inside of the theater are available for those who would like to purchase a piece of history. These will need to be replaced because of they are only 16 1/2 inches wide compared to modern theater seats at 21". (a testament to the decline of our culinary tastes over the last 70+ years.)

Regards,
robert@thenewisistheater.com

As an FYI - The New Isis Theater is currently in the architectural phase of renovation. This will probably take 3-4 months and the renovation approximately 14-16 months. Hopefully we can achieve a look which will remove us from your expertly crafted list of Stockyard buildings in need of repair. You could be very helpful in this process by informing your web viewers that the original seats from the inside of the theater are available for those who would like to purchase a piece of history. These will need to be replaced because of they are only 16 1/2 inches wide compared to modern theater seats at 21". (a testament to the decline of our culinary tastes over the last 70+ years.)
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Note: An authentic (sounding) Texas Cowgirl has provided a very interesting explanation for the above building. It may be a Texas Tall Tale...

"Okay, here's the explanation for why the bank is more than just an ugly bank. The ugly stockyards bank building may look like a frontier ski jump, but it's supposed to mirror the ramp that the doomed fatted cattle strolled upon as they made their way to the second-floor slaughter chamber of the old Armour-Swift meat packing plant. The bank building's made of salvaged brick from the plant, which burned in the early '70s. After the fire, before they swiped all the nasty brick for the bank construction, the ramp still went across the road that runs behind the Spaghetti Warehouse (which was the office building for Swift execs). Local tradition says you use your imagination to figure out why the slaughter place was on the second floor (read: it's some serious yuck to explain it so NO QUESTIONS). This is info from the horse's mouth, and the horse was the ARCHITECT, cramming a tour bus microphone into his mouth trying to explain himself to a group of FW's eager beaver business leaders called 'Leadership Fort Worth' - kind of a junior league for big boys in suits."

As long as we are in the Stockyards let's look at another example of incredible tackiness. The Wells Fargo bank. A huge monstrosity designed in a bad example of what used to be thought of as the modern style. You can see this bad building in the last photo above to see how close it is to the heart of the Stockyards. It seems extremely ironic and unimaginative that a business who's name and symbol are both icons of the western frontier, located in the town which claims to be where the west began, right at the heart of where that claim is most celebrated, would erect a structure so alien to its surroundings. How did this building get approved? Why is there no architectural standard in an area claming to be a historical district? Once more, go see tourist towns and historical districts in other states and witness how strictly new construction is controlled to match the existing buildings. Go to Winthrop or Leavenworth in Washington, the former a western-themed town, the latter an Alpine village where even the McDonalds, Burger King and Starbucks in town must match the theme. As would a Wells Fargo bank if one were allowed in town.
More Fort Worth Stockyards related Tackiness below
There are two exits from the I-35 freeway, with exit signs telling drivers this is the way to the Fort Worth Stockyards. Neither of these freeway exits is landscaped, both are usually heavily littered. Is there any other tourist attraction in America where the freeway exits are this unkempt? The photo you see to the right is the view when you take the northbound exit to Northside Drive. stockyards.jpg (52725 bytes)

Northside Drive exit to the Fort Worth Stockyards. Photo taken June 29, 2007. There is less litter than we usually see here.

If you have had the pleasure of driving in other parts of the nation, the West Coast for example, you may have noticed that many towns and cities landscape their freeway exits. And keep them cleaned up. For example, in the photo on the right you see the freeway exit from I-5 into the town of Mount Vernon, Washington, population 26,232. Fort Worth's population is 624,067, almost 24 times bigger than little Mount Vernon, yet little Mount Vernon manages to landscape and keep tidy all 3 of its I-5 freeway exits, while Fort Worth's exits to its most popular tourist attraction are littered eyesore messes. mountvernon.jpg (48244 bytes)

Kincaid Street exit to downtown Mount Vernon, Washington. Photo taken November 3, 2006. In the spring in this view you would see tulips and other flowers. And no litter.

The sign you see to your right was slightly altered from a sign which adorns many Texas highway rest areas.

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Above we see Victory #1 in the Project to Reduce Tacky in Texas (PRTT), the Nationally Infamous Cowtown Inn is no more. Will Victory #2 be either the Eyesore Isis Theater in the FW Stockyards, or the equally sore on the Eyes Stockyard's Wells Fargo Bank?

It would appear Fort Worth provides a lot of examples of Texas Tacky. Here we see an abandoned motel/restaurant on Lancaster Avenue in east Fort Worth. Broken windows, some covered with the requisite plywood, the building surrounded by a metal fence. Recently this Texas Tacky Eyesore has been in the news as children from a nearby school protested this eyesore's existence, pleading with the City of Fort Worth to do something about it. If you click to enlarge the lower photo you can make out some of the buffet food items on part of the window that isn't broken. One more example of Texas Tacky!

Note: A few weeks after these photos appeared in spring of 2002 some of this eyesore was cleaned up. The sign was removed and the broken windows were boarded up more securely...

Note 2: As of June, 2004 the Cowtown Inn is embroiled in a national controversy due to the Fort Worth proposal to demolish the structure using a controversial asbestos abatement method involving water misting.

Note 3: Fort Worth lost its bid to risk air quality using water to control airborne asbestos. The asbestos was then removed from the Cowtown Inn using more conventional/safer methods.

Note 4: Monday, April 19, 2005, the mayor of Fort Worth attacked the Cowtown Inn with a sledge hammer in the first stage of the final demolition of this multi-decade Texas Eyesore....end result in photo to the left.

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For over two years the Plywood Skyscraper stood as some sort of monument to something. And then the powers that be deemed the plywood a fire hazard and ordered it all removed. And replaced with metal. And thus the Plywood Skyscraper became the Tin Can Tower as you can see in the two following photos...

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Appearing to be the middle finger in the Fort Worth Skyline, the Tin Can Tower looks much better now than when it was covered in Plywood.

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Click here for a glimpse of the new Bank One Building, now known as The Tower.

THE TIN CAN TOWER

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The building you see here used to be called the Bank One building. Then it became the Plywood Skyscraper. And now it has become the Tin Can Tower. In March of 2000 it was struck by a tornado. The popular Reata restaurant occupied the area you see near the top and was able to re-open, despite extensive damage, within a month of the tornado. However, for reasons that have never made any sense and which seem to continually change, the rest of the building was declared unsalvageable. This after a long period of time when the excuse for non-repairs was the supposed inability to acquire the supposedly difficult to make replacement windows. After a period of time plywood began to cover the windows. Then came the news that the building was damaged beyond repair and would have to come down. It was sold. Demolition dates were set. Nothing happened. Now it turns out that the buyer, Ed Bass, who owns more downtown property than any other person, benefited hugely when the tenants of the former Bank One building had to find new space. Suddenly the office space market was very tight and Ed Bass was able to raise his rents as a result. Now he is pleading that there is just no way to fix or destroy the Plywood Skyscraper without some sort of money help from the city! Totally Texas Tacky in so many ways. How many other large cities would put up with this eyesore? Or the foot dragging and obfuscating? Other cities have recovered quickly from greater disasters; WTO riots, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks. But for some reason the forces that be in Fort Worth keep the Plywood Skyscraper as some sort of civic monument to a dark side of the way things work in Texas, as we've seen with these few examples, the abandoned motel, the New Isis, the Wells Fargo building. It is so sad, in a city which could be so much more, that a lack of something that gives other cities a spark is missing here. Is it civic pride? An excess tolerance for tackiness? Who knows. Maybe Fort Worth is the Heart of Texas Tacky.

UPDATE: June of 2004. Renovation of the Bank One Building is well underway. It is now known as The Tower and will be a residential skyscraper. Prior to being renamed The Tower the damaged building went through a post Tin Can Tower phase re-nicknamed The Condom Tower when it was sheathed in rubber during the asbestos removal process.

UPDATE: The Bank One Building is now renovated and people are moving in. It is now an attractive addition to the Fort Worth skyline, 5 years after the year 2000 tornado. Click here to see photos of what is now known as the Tower.

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Texas convenience stores are very convenient.
Many offer drive-thru beer service. But not this one.

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Way back in 1891 money was provided for a rectory, a church, and a school for a Texas town, which was to be settled by German Catholics and named for Ludwig Windthorst, a Catholic statesman in Germany. Later a wooden cross with the name misspelled as Windhorst was erected on a 1,088-foot-tall hill, where St. Mary's Catholic Church was built. The church is there to this day, as well as an historical marker explaining its existence. And a shrine, which you see here. Built to look like a cave, complete with stalagmites* hanging from the ceiling. Candles burn on an altar. These sort of shrines are not a Texas only type thing so it really isn't as much of a Texas Tacky example as it is an interesting thing to find on the backroads of Texas.

*note from a Texan:
Stalagmites do not hang from above you ignorant Yankee. Stalactites is the correct term.

MESSING WITH TEXAS

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Under the Messing With Texas heading we see 4 photo examples of Texas being Messed with.

The first is from Fair Park, Dallas, 11/07/02, weeks after the end of the Texas State Fair, this big Deja Blue bottled water advertisement floats in the scenic lagoon by the Cotton Bowl.

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Messing with Texas is an art form at which many Texans excel. Very imaginative methods of litter disposal. Interesting recycling methods you see no where else. Such as the phenomenon of a pickup pulling a flat bed trailer loaded with garbage, gradually letting the freeway speed winds deposit the garbage equitably along its route. This occasionally causes some problems, such as a piece of garbage blowing through a windshield killing a fellow traveler. But that is a small price to pay for such a clever waste disposal cost abatement program.

In the second of the Messing with Texas Tacky photos you see a couch cleverly disposed of at the Horseshoe Trails on Lake Grapevine....the third photo shows a very big outdoor TV viewing room on a back road north of Waco....the fourth photo is an artful arrangement which grew as a collage as people added to it for a period of weeks until someone ruined it by removing it. This was on a hiking trail in south Fort Worth.

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The Lucky Lady Oil Company may have seen better days. But it appears to still be operating some sort of business. The Lucky Lady is located in the north area of the Fort Worth Stockyards.

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COUPONS

A totally Texas Tacky practice the Eyes on Texas has only witnessed in Texas. At many events, such as street fairs, festivals, even the Texas State Fair, United States Currency is not accepted. To buy food and drink you must first get in line to buy coupons, sold in blocks of 9 for 5 bucks. This practice seems to inflate the prices. And since you can not get refunds for unused coupons you find yourself buying things you didn't want, just to use up your coupons.

5 coupons for a 20 oz. Coke...it would be an interesting psychology of selling experiment to see which sells more, pricing the Coke at 5 coupons, or pricing it at $2.75.

Depending upon your opinion of what sort of food is suitable for frying the example to the left may contain two examples of Texas Tacky. Both the price in coupons of the fried food, and the food that is being fried. A Texas Steak Sandwich costs 10 coupons, fried pickle slices, 8 coupons, fried jalapenos, 8 coupons, onion blossom, 10 coupons.

trailer.jpg (14467 bytes) Another fascinating Texas Tacky thing you really don't get to see anywhere else. That being the moving of big trailers down the freeway, at freeway speeds, taking up more than one lane, without benefit of a flagged escort in the back or front. Occasionally these create serious accidents, but apparently never serious enough to ban the practice.
That's all the Texas Tacky for now. 
More will be added as it is discovered.
Feel free to email us  
any examples you come across.


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