Delegating Denver #48 of 56: Texas
Total Number of Delegates: 228
How to Recognize a Texas Delegate:
This state may be huge and populous, but the Lone Star mystique can be summed up in the image of George W. Bush and Jessica Simpson driving a Ford F-150 pickup to the corner fireworks stand, where they stop and shop with one hand while carrying a six-shooter in the other. It's the celebrity state with the larger-than-life image that makes up in hellfire what it lacks in precision. Texans are famous the world over for their enthusiastic desire to fix things that are not broken. And, as evidenced by George Bush's Iraq project, Jessica Simpson's Dallas Cowboy QB football-busting scheme and Dr. Phil's Britney Spears rehab program, Texans won't take "STOP!" for an answer. Why, it even caused Dallas oil magnate Clint Murchison Jr. to start demolishing the unique, historic pre-WWII stone-trimmed Victorian commercial blocks that transformed downtown Denver into the architecturally insignificant district it is today. While all Texas delegates share this same "fix fixation," it will be easier to spot them in Denver according to their unique regional differences. Delegates from Dallas will love to dress up and eat breakfast at Burger King while looking down their noses at fellow patrons. Friendly Houstonians will continue ongoing conversations, and often start new ones, through stall walls in public restrooms. Austin is the new Berkeley, and delegates from the state's capital will dress like librarians, often reaching for a sweater when the temps dip below 76º F, and talk exclusively about dogs and composting. All will sport hairstyles that reflect the adage that everything is bigger in Texas. East Texans will wear their big hair in lofty cotton-candy coiffures, while west Texans will let it hang, often in tails and braids, to prevent the nesting of scorpions.
Ex-President Dwight D. Eisenhower; fashionista Todd Oldham; writer Larry McMurty; journalists Stone Phillips and Dan Rather; film director Richard Linklater; TV producer Gene Roddenberry; actors Tommy Lee Jones, Renée Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Farrah Fawcett, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Steve Martin, Jennifer Garner, Woody Harrelson, Eva Longoria Parker, Bill Paxton, Sissy Spacek, Ethan Hawke, Jerry Hall, Larry Hagman, Ann Miller, Owen, Andrew and Luke Wilson; musicians Kris Kristofferson, Beyoncé Knowles, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cat Power, Don Henley, Win (Arcade Fire) Butler, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Johnny Mathis, Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, Lyle Lovett, Trini Lopez, Marcia Ball, Ornett Coleman, Erykah Badu, Oran "Hot Lips" Page; ZZ Toppers Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard and Dusty Hill; biker Lance Armstrong; fame-baiter Jessica Simpson.
Famous Texas Democrats:
36th United States president Lyndon Baines Johnson; 69th United States Secretary of the Treasury Lloyd Bentsen; 29 & 32nd governor Miriam "Ma" Ferguson; 45th governor Ann Richards; 10th United States Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros; United States representatives Ruben Hinojosa, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Eddie Bernice Johnson.
Famous Texans With Denver Connections:
Suburb namesake and former governor Daniel I.J. Thornton; former governor Bill Owens; former mayor Federico Peña; Broncos players Javon Walker, Jarvis Moss and Sam Adams; South Park co-creator Matt Stone; Real World: Denver resident Alex Smith; TV family counselor Bill Engvall; Libertarian Party presidential candidate Christine Smith; DIA “Mustang” sculptor Luis Jimenez.
State Nickname: The Lone Star State, the Banner State, the Jumbo State (official); The Big Hair State, The I Tell You What State, Land of Pearl and Tabasco (unofficial)
Racial Distribution: 48% white, 12% black, 1% Native American, 3% Asian, 36% Hispanic
Per Capita Personal Income: $29,372
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE TEXAS DELEGATION
Most Texan Denver Neighborhood: Stapleton
Most Texan Bar:
The Grizzly Rose
5450 North Valley Highway
Live bands six nights a week in what may be the world's perfect country-Western bar, with a dance floor as big as the state of Texas.
Most Texan Restaurant:
8100 East Orchard Road
Greenwood Village, Colorado
A little taste of home, right near the delegation hotel, that will be a welcome relief after those long days of convention committee meetings with loony Westerners and snooty Easterners.
Best Day Trip: Big Thompson Canyon
Flash Flood Alley, from Dallas to San Antonio, has a higher potential for high-magnitude flooding than any other region of the United States. Texas sits directly in the coastal plain where moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and blasts of Arctic air combine to unleash storms that have produced over half of the world's record rainfall amounts (48 hours or less). Texan training in flash-flood awareness and safety will give added appreciation to delegates taking this trip up Colorado's Big Thompson Canyon. From the hotel, take I-25 north for 58 miles to exit 257. Follow U.S. Highway 34 westbound into the town of Loveland, where the road is named Eisenhower Boulevard, to honor the Texas-born president who supplied the highway funds needed to get busy presidents up to their favorite fly-fishing locations. The road and the river meet at the Dam Store, which sits at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon. From here, the thirty-mile drive twists and climbs steadily up the scenic gorge, past grassy picnic pullovers and trailhead parking-lot turnoffs. The frequent signs warning "In case of flooding, climb to safety" are reminders of the devastating evening of July 31, 1976. Beginning at 7 p.m. on the eve of Colorado's Centennial celebration, a thunderstorm towering over 60,000 feet stalled over the upper regions of the Big Thompson Canyon. A torrential downpour of twelve inches in four hours turned this normally pleasant river into a raging torrent. The volume of water reached a peak of 31,000 cubic feet per second, far beyond the normal flow of 200 cubic feet per second. The resulting flash food destroyed 400 cars, 418 houses and 52 businesses, and washed out nearly all of the highway. One hundred forty-five people were killed; the churning boulders, timbers and metal scoured their bodies and made identification dreadfully difficult. Six of the missing bodies have never been found. The once-in-a-thousand-years flood happened 32 years ago, so odds of a pleasant trip are good. However rare, all canyon areas are subject to flash flooding, so it’s important for Texas delegates to keep an eye on the weather. If the river rises up to the road, climb to safety!
-- Kenny Be