Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Town Monday - The Launch

Okay, it's Sunday, not Monday but this being the first week I thought I'd get a jump in order to see how many bloggers we can get on board.

Here's the deal for the foreseeable future I'm going to blog each and every Monday about my town -- Amarillo, Texas. And maybe even the surrounding area. I hope many of you will do the same. I know I am always curious about other people and places and I think this will be a good way for us all to learn about other cities, towns, states, and countries in an entertaining and personable way.

The way I see it the topics are endless. The history, famous citizens, the economy, the political climate, the human interest stories. I also would love to read why you chose to live there, or why you stay. The things you like and dislike about your community. The best places to eat, have a beer and why those establishments are your favorites. Make 'em funny, make 'em sad, make 'em up if you have to, but reveal what it is about your town that makes it unique.

And leave a comment telling me you've participated and I'll add a link to this post. I'm shooting for at least ten other bloggers to jump in this week so spread the word. My eventual goal is to have at least one blogger in each state and as many foreign countries as we can, but if you live in Timbuktu and some other blogger from Timbuktu is already on board jump in anyway. We all view the world through different eyes and therefore our perspectives are different, so I'd love to hear them all.

Okay,I've rambled long enough about my plans now to the first installment.

There is not going to be any rhyme or reason to these posts. they will follow no chronological order or anything and while I considered starting with the history and story behind the settling of Amarillo I instead chose something much more recent.

Do you know this man? Surely you do. Dr. Phil. No he is not from Amarillo. Now I guess that there are a good many people out in the world besides Oprah who like this man. There has to be. After all, he has his own television show, best selling books and who knows what else. He is by all accounts a successful man.

And he grates on my last nerve. Just the sound of his voice is enough to irk me. I'd rather eat an entire bowl of lettuce than listen to him spot advice and those who frequent my blog know that I am a devout carnivore.

So it is with great shame that I confess, the world might not have ever heard of Dr. Phil if not for my fair city of Amarillo. And here is why ...

Sometime in the mid 90's Oprah had a show about the dangers of America's food supply. Upon hearing about Mad Cow disease she said something to the affect she would never eat beef again.

The next day cattle prices dropped and continues to spiral downward for a while. The Texas Cattle Feeders Association which is based here in Amarillo decided to sue Oprah for slandering the beef industry. (In the comments, Carol pointed out that it wasn't the Texas Cattle Feeders but a group put together by a local feedyard owner that filed suit. A quick bit of research says she is right while I was wrong. See I already learned something from this myself.) I doubt even they believed they'd win the lawsuit but at the very least they would get a very public trial to spread the word that beef is as safe or safer than any other food source. The trial was scheduled to take place here in Amarillo and for six weeks or so Oprah did her television show from her in town. It was during this time she first took up with Dr. Phil. He was her spiritual and psychological adviser for the trial. She credited his coaching and calming influence for helping her prevail and shortly after that he began appearing on her show.

As a side note, every once in a while you still see an old pickup truck with a bumper sticker popular from that time. OPRAH IS THE ONLY MAD COW IN TEXAS

But to be fair Oprah had a positive impact on the economy and she shed a very positive light on the town on her show. She even made a point o eat a steak or two while she was here.

Next week, I'll get into the history of Amarillo and reason it has turned out to be the economic capital of the area. Don't worry, my post won't be as dry as it sounds.

Come on gang. Tell me a story about your town. Or visit these bloggers to learn something about their neck of the woods.

Wordvixen -- Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Pattinase -- Detroit, Michigan

Suv Mama -- Everywhere, almost. Go along for the ride as she heads for Washington.

Lana Gramlich -- Abita Springs, Louisiana

Merry Monteleone -- Cicero, Illinois

Polka Dot Witch -- Castleton-on Hudson, New York

Patti-O -- San Angelo, Texas -- Now we Texans have the rest of you outnumbered.

Carleen Brice -- Denver, Colorado

Sarai -- Kansas City, Kansas

Alex Keto -- West Berlin, Germany -- Read this post. Alex is a former journalsit who has mnay great posts ona variety of topics with Kenya nbeing the most common, but this guy constantly enlightens me.

Britta Coleman -- Fort Worth, Texas -- Three Texans! We are whooping the rest of y'all rather handily.

By the way thanks to all who have participated this week. I reached my goal of ten already, but if anyone else posts or I've missed anyone, please let me know. The more the merrier. Next week I'm shooting for fifteen so I hope all of you post again. I have already learned a good many things and I hope y'all have as well. I probably will not post again until Wednesday night or Thursday morning so there is still plenty of time to add your link to the others. Just drop me a line in the comments to let me know if you do.


Patti said...

dr. phil is an embarrassment...

i am gonna do san angelo and not where i actually live. that's ok, right?!

Anonymous said...

It wasn't Texas Cattle Feeders that sued Okra. It was a man named Paul Engler, who has a feedyard called Cactus Feeders.

Good post though!

And I agree with you about Dr. Phil.

Travis Erwin said...

Patti - Whatever town you choose.

Carol - You probably are right, but I was thinking there was a group or association involved. Not just one man. Guess I assumed it was the Texas Cattle Feeders since they are based here.

Anonymous said...

travis--just when i thought we might become friends, you're hatin' on dr. phil? i can't believe this. he's on at our house so much, my kids think he's one of my boyfriends. (yes, that's boyfriends, plural. it's a writer's job hazard. too much time in my head)

i'm in for "my town monday."

i've been living here -- castleton-on-hudson, NY -- for 10 years (and across the river in Albany for the three before that) but otherwise, i identify most with maine and west virginia.

at first when i read your idea, i thought i'd try to convince you to let me cheat and do maine or WV but now i think it would be good for me to start writing/connecting more with this place.

so i stake my flag in castleton-on-hudson, new york.

first thing you should know is none of us use the full name of the town/village. it's just "castleton" (but it sounds more interesting the other way)

Katrina said...

During the "Oprah is in town" phase--I heard from some pretty reliable sources that Paul Engler forced some of the smaller feedlots into joining him in the lawsuit. He was hoping the money they spent would deplete their money sources and leave him the "Big Fish" in town. Not sure it actually worked--or if it was true??
BUT it was interesting to watch all the spin that came out of having OPRAH in town. Interesting too that she supported Dr. Phil and now is supporting OBAMA??

Travis Erwin said...

By the way even though most people associate Dr. Phil with Texas he was born in Oklahoma so that free us Texans from an obligation to like him.

WordVixen said...

Tsk. Travis, at least I waited till Monday! (Hey, it's Monday here. Not my fault you guys are slow!)

Hm.. A whole bowl of lettuce? You must be serious.

Anyway, here's my entry:

Terrie Farley Moran said...


Dare I attempt New York City?

I will give it a shot and let you know.

Running over to Pennsylvania to visit Wordvixen.


Josephine Damian said...

Travis, I just gave your idea a plug on my blog. Not participating myself today - perhaps I will on a future Monday.

I also had an alternate book-related home town idea that I posted on my blog....

Travis Erwin said...

Terrie, I'm looking forward to a bite of the Big Apple as I am Patti and Polkadots once they are psoted.

And thanks Josephine.

Melissa Amateis said...

What a neat idea to write about your town. Let me give it some thought - I may try doing it on my hometown, which I no longer live in, because I know it much better than my current home since I've only been here five years.

Travis Erwin said...

Melissa, let me know if you get a post up.

Sarai said...

Well I am currently at work but I when I get home tonight I will post for Kansas City, Kansas. Hometown for 27 years surely I can find something interesting no? So I guess this means I stake my claim for Kansas.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to blog about my town but I enjoyed reading about yours.

I remember when that happened with Oprah... I used to love Oprah but over the years I've become suspicious of the power she wields. It makes me very uncomfortable.

As for Dr. Phil - I used to watch when he first came out and even bought his diet book back in the day - but I can't stand him either. I think he's a joke. I heard that he even lost his license to practice psychotherapy - or whatever it is that he does.

Lana Gramlich said...

I'll be participating in this...Have to finish up commenting first though. The net's running slow today, unfortunately, so this may take a while. I'll get back to you when my post's up.

Jess said...

I'm in, though it was more difficult than I thought, having moved a lot... :)

I remember the Oprah thing, but having just seen "Fast Food Nation" I think it's far more damaging to the meat industry.

However, you brought up an interesting point about how much money was pumped into the town by her being there. Gotta hand it to her for that one!

Suzanne said...


God I love that name.

What in the hell is a carnivor doing on a vegetarian's blog? Was it the black bikini? Or the Victoria Secrets model? Or both. Good Lord. I know you've probably been lurking, so you know me by now and know I would never dream of posting a photo like that, but I swear to God, I couldn't resist after the dream I had.

I read your post and your idea is terrific. I'm not sure I'm in because I haven't even revealed where I live. I don't know why? Protective of my privacy? Scared? Who knows. However, I've been rethinking me decision lately. After reading your post I realized I would like to share my city with all of you and know I have friends all over the world who would love to do the same. So I'll direct them to your blog and we'll see what they decide to do. I'll take the week to figure out what I want to do. You'll know the answer next Monday.

If you don't mind I'd love to speak to Polkadotwitch for a minute or two. Hi Polka, I'm from the Catskills, the Woodstock area! You're so close by!!! I miss home. My entire family is still there, so would love you to post about Castleton and the surrounding area because I love it! I'm actually thinking about moving back home and buying a house in Dutchess or Columbia County. Howdy neighbor! I'll also admit I LOVE Maine. I would love a home there, but my husband insists I'd never survive. He's probably right. Believe it or not, I've also looked at buying a home in West Virginia! How funny. Small world.

Okay, that's it for now. Oh, not yet. Almost forgot the point of the post...Oprah and Dr. Phil (well, not really the point, but you get the point!). I don't watch either. I think I've seen the Oprah show a whopping 3 or 4 times, and that's only because I was sick and didn't have the strength to change the channel. Dr. Phil? Never. One of your other friends said it quite beautifully...she has too much power. It scares me too. I also bothers me that she spends gobs and gobs of money on nonsense when if used wisely it could benefit so many. If I had that much money I can't even imagine all the good I could do. It brings tears to my eyes. Perhaps in another life.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and thanks too for this wonderful idea. I'll introduce my friends to you and we'll see what happens. Oh, and can you please set that poor fish down, he's been danglin' up there long enough!

XO Suzanne

Travis Erwin said...

Sarai - looking forward to it.

Tee - With great power comes great responsibility. Sorry, my Spidey sense kicked in.

Lana - I know it will be interesting.

Suv- Thanks for playing. I'll ahve your link up in a jiffy.

Suzanne - Wow that is a comment and a half. I like it. I know lots of people who guard their privacy. So pick a stat eand go with that if you want. And you'll be glad to know the fish was released back into the water to be caught another day.

Monnik said...

I feel the same way about Dr. Phil.

And someday when I'm not feeling horrid, I'll write a post about Tinytown, Iowa. Just not today.

Lana Gramlich said...

Okay...I've done my My Town Monday post. Count me in. :)

Merry Monteleone said...

Okay Travis, I broke my blog hiatus to get in on this one...

I'll be around to read everyone's soon and comment more fully.

Mine's the last post on my blog.

Anonymous said...

so i wrote a comment that included my "my town monday" link and a defense of dr. phil ... is it a coincidence that this blog gave me an error message and is making me re-write it? hmmm? :)

anyway, here's my town for this very first week.

i'm still mad about dr. phil, but would like to say hi to suzanne! looking forward to your visits. and everyone.

p.s. dr. phil didn't lose his license. he let his texas licensure expire b/c he hasn't lived in or practiced in texas in years. i can't be alone in this adoration of him. he has other viewers besides me, right?

Phats said...

Dr Phil is the biggest Jackass in America! What a tool.

I would love to write about my hometown, but that would probably only cover one post and then everyone would stalk me because I am so handsome hahahahha :)

Brenda said...

Hi there. Just found your blog. Interesting topic since I'm always writing about my own Texas small town on my blog.

Lyzzydee said...

Hi There Travis,
I spotted your link on a friends blog, I like the idea, would you like an English town to add to your list?? Not sure how exciting I can make it, but I'll give it a go!!

Design Goddess said...

A little side note about your town: did you know the name Amarillo is Spanish for Yellow?

That's about all I know about your little place on earth! :)

Penelope said...

Dr. Phil is a self serving twit with no soul.

That being said, we will begin posting on "my town Mondays" next Monday. As you well know, we live in Redneck Hell, Texas. (At least until our house sells. Then we will move to A much more civilized community, Texas.)

-- P

Suzanne said...

How would you feel if someone put a hook in your mouth, then released you to the wild? Not such a pretty picture, is it? No pain meds, no antibiotics. You know, all the common sense stuff doctors recommend. I never think inside the box. Never. So be prepared if you expect to be my friend! And yes, I do expect you to be my friend. The question I ask is, would you like to be that fish? Would you? Perhaps you'll reevaluate after contemplating the thought. No sweetie, life with me isn't simple. You'll have to think a lot! Are you ready? And honey, just to remind you...I'm a vegetarian! Are you ready for that?!!! :)

Thanks for your comment. I'm in Northern CA and think I'm about to reveal my local! Who knew. You made me think...Ahhhhhhhhhh, who cares about privacy. We're all friends, it's not like one of you is going to screw me. Right?! Hey, my dear friend (I know she is now!) Polka is going to talk about her town, so I know everything is right with the world. Thank you Polka. I knew you would come through for me. Honey, if I ever move home, you'll be one of the first to know. And when I visit, we will have to get together at some beautiful cafe in Redhook or Rhinebeck or some quaint place in a small village in Columbia County. Perfection.

Thank you dear Travis for visiting me and for starting this conversation. It mattered.

Much love,

Patti said... me dude...

Carleen Brice said...

Travis, I'll join in. Since my book is set in my town, how can I refuse?

Also, I am so with you on dr. phil!

Travis Erwin said...

Hi Brenda, welcome.

lyzdee - definitely. I don't care what part of the world you inhabit, I'm interested. Just let me know when you get you're post up.

Design Goddess- Yes, I knew that and plan to talk about the name more next week.

penelope- I look forward to it.

Suzanne - I can handle you being a vegetarian as long as you can handle me being a carnivore who thinks lettuce is the Devil.

Charles Gramlich said...

Since Lana is in on it and I live in the same place, I'll let her play for me as well. Who hoo.

Sarai said...

Okay mine is up on Kansas City and jazz! Check it out ;)

Terrie Farley Moran said...


I am having a ball trotting from place to place through these links. I promise to have New York ready by next Monday.

Alex Keto credits you for his great blog on West Germany. Give it a look and a link.


Terrie Farley Moran said...



Alex's post is on West Berlin, not WEst Germany.


Britta Coleman said...

Love the idea, Travis. I'm in...blogging about Fort Worth. Today's post is about the Best Burger Ever...

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hey Travis-

I just hopped over here from Carleen Brice's blog--I'll join up next week. I'll be a midweastern voice--my home for the last 17 years is Kirkwood, MO (outside of St. Louis; a town recently in the news).

Brooke said...

Oh God, my town suuuucks...I can tell you a good story about the 90 year old man who held off cops with a gun outside the nursing home...true story.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

This is so fun! and What a great concept! I hit a few of them, will go by the others when I ahve a chance. And I completely agree with you about Dr. Phil.

The Anti-Wife said...

Didn't quite make it this week, but I'll work on something for next week. This is great and the posts are very interesting.

Mr. Shife said...

Wow. It looks like I jumped on board too late but I do not want to talk about where I live because it is home to something I hold in the same regard as you do for Dr. Phil, Boise State University. I don't like Dr. Phil much either.
Anyway good idea with your town subject and good luck.

Bernita said...

Sorry, m'Dear.
I can't.
I have this thing about being harried by people with pitchforks and torches.

Stacy said...

That is such a fun idea. I don't know if I dare blog about my town. There's too many weird rumors floating around about it. I'd probably get hate mail.

I can't stand Dr. Phil either. Or Oprah.

Debbielou said...

Travis - Put me down too !

Shauna said...

I like this idea of My Town Monday. I'll enjoy everyone else's posts, but won't contribute. I live in a boring town. No history. No beauty. Just oil, oil, oil.