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Community Radio Radio De La Comunidad Programmism3 Di.versitu For A Cultu..raLlu 1:51.verse Cito P.O. Box 2116 Austin, TX 78768-2116 Visit us on the [email protected] Ivins, continued from page 7 rial like the time Rep. Mike Martin paid his Cousin Eddie to shoot him in the arm with a shotgun, and then claimed it had been done by a Satanic and communistic cult. You think I can find stuff this weird anywhere else? This is why I’m still in Texas. And why should this be true, what did we ever do to deserve them, aside from electing them? Same old problem. The Observer has spent 50 years trying to get this state to behave in some form of rational, responsible, and faintly mercifulnot to say Christianfashion, and here we still are. Still larger than life, in that weird pie-eyed way. Still that lunatic quality of exaggeration. Still Texas, damn it and love it. The Goober and the Gibber, Poor 01′ Preston and Dollar Bill Clements, Gov. Pet Rock and Gov. Goodhair, Goodtime Charlie Wilson and the Wrong Don Yarbrough, The Unspeakable Hollowell and Mad Dog Mengden, the Bull of the Brazos and Goose Finnell. No place but Texas. That’s why Texas liberals get to laugh and laugh and laugh. Molly Ivins is a former Observer editor Democracy Foundation. Her latest book with Lou Dubose is Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America \(Random of columns is Who Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I Have Known Sex, continued from page 17 So much energy, creativity, and openmindedness amid the official meanness. So much Texas eros, if you will, and where are the stories? Here I must confess that I haven’t produced many of them either. While doing freelance journalism in Texas in the 1980s and 1990s, I wrote mostly about cultural paranoias that were both stateand nationwide: the “satanic daycare center sex abuse” panic, for instance, and fears of “illegal alien invasion?’ These anxieties, it seemed to me, are often metaphors for angst with double edges. The day care scare was a cover for patriarchal fears about women going to work, but it also reflected women’s own unease about leaving their families every day for crummy jobs they didn’t want but had to suffer in order to pay bigger and bigger bills. Xenophobia and the call for closed borders: It can be racist, and also a protest against capital flight, job flight, and the neoliberal disruption of economies that expels people from their own countries and draws them to the U.S. to work cheap and lower native-born workers’ wages. Progressives need to plumb these worries and rephrase them so the worriers can confront their real problems with reason and righteousness rather than panic and rage. But just getting readers to question the veracity of some panics has been complicatedespecially when it comes to sexual scares, such as the daycare meltdown. Doing that questioning leaves little time to examine more subversive and hopeful aspects of sex and society. Post the recent election, though, I vow to change my ways. I’m just one contributor to TO, though. How about everyone else? And how big a change would this be? Dave Denison became TO’s associate editor in 1984 and was editor from 1986 to 1989. He attributes the dearth of what he calls “culture” stories in the Observer and by “culture” I think we’re also talking about sexto a sensibility stretching back to the paper’s first years under Ronnie Dugger, in the 1950s. “We’ve had a long line of conventionally liberal-populist white guys running the Observer,” says Denison. “When you’re coming from that political place, your mind is on power politics, the legislature, corporations, bad cops. There’s a preference for economic issues that are not needlessly divisive of the working class.” Lou Dubose, who edited TO in the late 1990s, thinks it’s ironic that the early crew was so quiet in print about sex. Read the stellar novel about early 1960s Austin liberalism, The Gay Place, by TO writer Billy Lee Brammer \(“gay” in his title has an F. Scott Fitzgeraldish connotation out the memoir Finding Celia’s Place, by Celia Morris, wife of Willie Morris, who followed Dugger as editor. Both books make it clear that young Texas liberals of the period, including TO writers and their spouses, had frenetic, frequently extramarital, love lives. But to traditional liberals, there are still limits. “In 1959, we ran a piece defending gay rightsat a time when homosexuality was as taboo as Communism$ says Dugger. “The Observer has always been consistent in doing the right thing. But who you’re screwing? If I were doing a novel I’m damned sure I’d have a lot of sex. Not in journalism though. You don’t do that!” Kaye Northcott was co-editor with Molly Ivins from 1970 to 1976. Northcott and Ivins took a keen interest in the women’s movement, but limited their coverage to expressions that fit a traditional, political-science mode. “We were mostly concerned with women teaching other women how to organize campaigns;’ says Northcott. “Sissy Farenthold [who ran for governor in 1972] was the most important feminist in the state. Sarah Weddington [who litigated Roe v. Wade] was one of the first women elected officials in Texas. Ann Richards ran her campaigns. We ran some cultural stuff but we saw the power as being in the electoral process.” Meanwhile, grassroots ferment was so 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 12/3/04