Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Another open letter to my state senator

Dear Senator Wentworth:

I see that you are trying to block a highway in your district being named after Willie Nelson. Even though it's a toll road!

OK, why, one asks, reasonably, do you take this strange position?

Your first reason, according to the Austin American Statesman: We don’t name highways for the living. But...oops, Nolan Ryan, a retired ballplayer and, (incidentally) a registered member of your party, was very much alive when a highway was named after him. But, then, he was a Republican, so even though a sort of diminished capacity could be pled, there was no actual rigor mortis. Thus, on the face of it, reason the first looks like a--sorry to use the F word--fib. No, not a fib, that's ungenerous. A mistake. But, given that it is demonstrably untrue, I am sure you will abandon that rationale.

Your second reason: Willie Nelson is not a role model. What? Hello? And this same Nolan Ryan, who went on the air to plug a tax increase for the people of Arlington to finance a pig-in-a-poke stadium designed solely to enrich George W. Bush, is a ROLE MODEL?!! Well, I guess for some in the former party of Lincoln, for whom disingenuous hucksters and role models may be hard to tell apart, that's true. But, how, really, can you say that a great country singer who is honest about his life, even admitting to smoking a joint, is not a role model?

It is just...hard to understand.

And it's not even true. I am sure as many young people, even in San Antonio, and certainly in Austin, aspire to become singers, as hope to become state senators or ballplayers. True, country musicians are out of fashion, but almost everyone loves Willie Nelson, even if he is a relict of a bygone age in Austin music.

Look. This illness could be cured. Willie Nelson is not just a country singer. Do you listen to _any_ kind of music? If so, Willie has probably, at some point in his career, sung something you would like. If Whiskey River is not for you, how about When the Roll is Called Up Yonder? Or Georgia On My Mind? Or Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer? Or Basin Street Blues? Or Moon River? Or Accentuate the Positive?

I think if you look honestly and objectively at Mr. Nelson's career, you'll find as much to admire as in the career of someone with a good fastball (or, in the case of the stadium-promoting retirement career of Mr. Ryan, a slick curveball.)

Yours sincerely,

Jim McCulloch

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