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IMAGINE CRUISING DOWN THE AUTOBAHN WITH 256 HP UNDER THE HOOD, TOP DOWN, FIFTH GEAR, ENGINE WIDE OPEN, SCENERY A BLUR. THAT’S THE FEEL OF INTERNET ACCESS THROUGH THE NEW EDEN MATRIX. 1,./4ty wait? ta…1\(4e a. te s t DIAL-UP ISDN ACCESS FOR JUST $18.50/MONTH FULLY DIGITAL PRI PHONE LINES WIDE OPEN CAPACITY TECH SUPPORT WITH A PULSE The Eden Matrix 106 E. SIXTH STREET, SUITE 210 AUSTIN, TX 78701 VOICE: 512.478.9900 FAX: 512.478.9934 ..P411 .a9 11! 7?”7117;91A77 men. In their last years gout was apparently their only common complaint. Of the fifty-nine fathers of Texas’ independence, one died at San Jacinto, one drowned by accident, one was killed by Indians, two were murdered by whites. The frontier was a rough place and that these men did not pass away in their beds, or have the rich man’s complaint of gout, isn’t really so surprising. What is surprising is that four of the Texans committed suicide. Rusk, Woods, Childress, and Coleman each took his own life. James Woods, for example, murdered a man and felt remorse. George Childress, principal author of the Texas Declaration of Independence, left a suicide note that took great care not to blame his wifebut did not reveal exactly whom to blame. One thing is certain, however. Only the most extreme discontent could make a man cut open his own belly with a Bowie knife and lie down to die. The last president of the Republic of Texas, Dr. Anson Jones, also committed suicide, apparently after his plans for a political comeback were blocked by Sam Houston. General Houston himself died an outcast in the state he had helped to create, watching Texas in another revolt, this one unsuccessful. That Tejas did not live up to these men’s expectations, or that they were not the men we think they were, seems at least possible. My hypothesis iscarrying the same logic forward to our generation perhaps neither are we. But the man whose death says the most about us as a people, and as a state, is Captain Jim Gaines of Nacogdoches, whose signature appears toward the end of our Declaration of Independence from Mexico. Captain Gaines’ grave is not in Texas. He died of fever in California, chasing that last great opportunity on the American continent, the Gold Rush. Missing from the counsels of the Texas Revolution was a necessary ingredient for any legitimate re volt: reluctance. Sam Houston was talking revolution before he ever entered the territory. American colonists carefully weighed their loyalty to Great Britain before deciding to break away. For Texans the only question was not if, but when. That’s just history, of course. It’s only water under the bridge; it really doesn’t matter any more. But there’s a price for expedience. In our case, with opportunism came bravado. One hundred and sixty-one years later, it’s still so thick it makes you want to choke. “On the seventh day,” the bumper stickers read, “He created Texas.” “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as soon as I could.” “On earth, as it is in TEXAS.” There’s Texas-sized, Texas-tough, Texastested, Texas-true. Texas pr00000ud. Who is this intended for? Who are we trying to convince? Is it prideor insecurity? Is it a sales job or a sign of illness? “NATIVE TEXAN.” Who cares? We do, clearly, and it’s a little scary. Texans don’t have to brag, a high school girl in Austin once explained to me, “because we know we’re the best.” But that puts us in a rather crowded field. The Japanese are, for example, convinced of their own superiority, and have some evidence to support the claim. Europeans have spent most of the last millennium proving their dominance over everyone else. God is an Englishman, we have been told, and Jews are His chosen people. The Egyptians built the pyramids. The Chinese have five thousand years of continuous culture. What, precisely, is Texas’ claim to fame? Where exactly do we fit in? We’re “the best”no doubtbut could we be more specific? The Lone Star flag is pretty, even elegant, but there has to be a reason we wear it on our underwear. Hubris? Insecurity? Over-compensation for guilt? Vanity-of-vanities? Something is wrong here, and you don’t have to believe in the concept of original sin to know what it is. If there is something wrong, you may ask, why are we still on top? Our conceit is that Texas bears the same relationship to the other forty-nine states that the United States, theoretically, bears to the world: first among equals. But there is, in fact, another possibility. The hammer may simply have yet to fall. The boom can still become a bust. Metaphorically speaking, a good wind could blow it all away tomorrow. Biblically speaking, the day of the locusts may yet come. The strong man, a marble headstone in East Austin reminds us, often stumbles. Lucius Lomax is an Austin writer. SUBSCRIBE TO THE TEXAS OBSERVER 307 West 7th Street Austin, Texas 78701 JUNE 20, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31