Thursday, August 09, 2007

"The Office" (Workstation series) 015 - SW/Rt. 66 edition

Although it's not readily apparent, and although the city fathers of Lubbock seem mostly to manifest all the most close-minded, unimaginative, "Club for Growth-"esque stupidity that was the dark side of "good Texas values" in the 1930s-40s-50s (don't forget, these are the people who basically ran Buddy Holly out of town when they found out that he'd married "some Meskin woman from New Yawk"--and they still hate Maria Elena here), Lubbock does have that Great Southwest/Route 66 heritage. The old downtown--the putative Depot District whose potential the City Fathers have managed to completely mismanage--is full of buildings built during the New Deal and the war years. The Depot District on a Sunday morning looks very much like the "Anarene Texas" depicted in the McMurtry / Bogdanovich Last Picture Show (yes, I know that McMurtry was thinly-anonymizing Abilene, not Lubbock--but Abilene and Lubbock in the early '50s were very similar places--the metropolis of the region, God help us, was Amarillo). But there is a certain and very real beauty to those buildings from the 1930s: those unemployed carpenters, plumbers, and electricians who'd been put back to work by FDR's "First 100 Days" were fine craftsmen, who welcomed the opportunity to do good work for an honest day's wage.

The campus itself already existed--founded in 1923 as "Texas Technological College," a place where the sons of ranchers and, eventually, oilmen could get a college education and help manage the family's business upon graduation--but it was 2 miles west of town through cotton fields: "Broadway" and "Main" streets were beautiful bricked thoroughfares with streetcars, but there was fuckin' nothing out there but the college.

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The oldest "university neighborhood," which began to be built in the '30s as the College and air force base began to gear up for the European conflict that war profiteers, anyway, saw coming, was directly east of campus, and still has beautiful old houses--mostly now sadly decrepit, because, as is typical in underzoned college towns, it was allowed to devolve into a student- and crack-house neighborhood by greedy slumlords. The next oldest university neighborhood, and the one where Dharmonia and live, is still a student, professor, and medical-faculty neighborhood, directly south of campus.

It's mostly a viable mix, though Lubbock neighborhoods' quality is very much block-by-block, and even house by house. And you're always vulnerable to the depredations of spoiled punk-ass kids from Houston or Dallas whose parents have bought them houses to trash while they "go" to school. But Dharmonia and I have lived in student towns or neighborhoods since at least 1984, so we're somewhat attuned to the synthesis of confrontation, disregard, and surrogate - parenting - to - compensate - for - previously - negligent - and/or - distant - parents such situations can call for (favorite moment from the other night's visit by EMT's to the spoiled rich boys next door: the Lubbock cop who, having kicked in the bathroom door in order to rescue some scared little bunny who thought she was, quote, "OD'ing on marijuana (?!?)," unquote, told us "Don't ever hesitate to call LPD. I'm the door-kickin'est SOB you ever saw").

And, the architecture in this neighborhood is pretty nice. We love our little house, a region-inappropriate Cape Cod bungalow which, being New Englanders, we actually know what color to paint. But we were also sobered to discover, upon closing, that the original platte of the land that broke it into housing lots in 1936 forbade selling to "Negroes or Mexicans"--and so we go out of our way to manifest as many different goals and behavioral models as possible to cause those crusty old ranchin'-and-awl fuckers to spin in their graves.

And the block of (overpriced, price-gouged-by-greedy-landlord) shops where the Office is located, in addition to the interesting history about which I've blogged in previous entries, also has some wonderful, region- and period-appropriate plaster, design, and paint. This is the ve3iw just outside the Office, of the tower over the shops, with the name of the old art-house theatre which the coffeeshop building originally housed.

To work.

Now playing: Sajjad Ali - Jhullay Lal

1 comment:

Dharmonia said...

Good post. But I really believe they are more than just punk-ass kids. There are some decent people in there -- they either have chosen bad models or they rejected the models they had and therefore don't have any model at all, which usually causes a lot of free-floating beer-inhalation. My experience with a number of the young people I've met in the Rock History class suggests to me that a lot of these kids are really lost. They've been taught that the only acceptable goal is to get a job that will make them 6 figures, and they've been given a whole bunch of toys to reinforce the desirability of that goal, but they don't know what to do with either their hearts or the inside of their heads.

The other thing they need, which I don't think they ever get, is approval for the right things. They tend to get ignored when they act like humans, discouraged when they show some sensitivity, and yelled at and threatened when they behave badly, which then becomes increasingly frequent. I myself have been guiIty of this - I didn't go over there at any point when they were behaving like good citizens and say "Gee, your yard looks great since you cleaned it up. Thanks for being quiet lately." So I am inadvertently adding to this syndrome. I often wish I could actually get to know them a little bit, to find out what's actually inside the brain (and the heart.)