WTF Friday: Going to Midland


Above: The inevitable result of Mayor Annise Parker's totalitarian policies.

Where to start? This was a week of WTF not as subtext, but as text. Some weeks, WTF Friday can be harder to put together than others. It can feel like sitting on the surface of a calm and tranquil ocean, casting a line out, and waiting for three-eyed fish. This was no such week. The sea is raging with WTF. Three-eyed fish are piling up on the floorboards, threatening to overturn the Observer‘s humble fishing skiff. This, dear readers, was a weird, weird week.

1) This was a week in which Houston City Council hearings over that city’s proposed non-discrimination ordinance (which would protect the LGBT community, and a whole lot of other folks, from workplace and other discrimination) devolved spectacularly, in exactly the way you’d assume, and bottomed out with the invocation of “Swastika cakes.” Forcing Christian bakers to make cakes for gay weddings, Pastor Steve Riggle told a Jewish council member, would be like forcing a Jewish cake baker to make a cake for Nazis. A Swastika cake.

You will be astonished to learn that the metaphor doesn’t quite hold. Nazis are not a protected class—this is still America, happily, and you are free to refuse to do business with Nazis, as happened in 2008 when one New Jersey supermarket refused to make a birthday cake for 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell. There is the additional fact that gay people, as of 2014, have not attempted to murder all Christians, nor do they seem likely to do so in the short- to medium-term. For the curious, though, here is how you can make a Swastika cake at home.

2) This was a week in which David Dewhurst, in the course of his (rapidly deteriorating OR increasingly successful) bid to best state Sen. Dan Patrick for the GOP lite guv nomination, imprisoned one unfortunate millennial in a David Lynch-inflected meta-hellscape, then filmed a moderately erotic short film about Jerry Patterson’s gun collection.

3) And it was a week that ended in an almost incomprehensible street brawl over the fact that Dan Patrick got brief psychiatric treatment back when the Norwegian band a-ha was still in the studio working on “Take On Me.” Followed by the detailed recounting of the tale of a former Houston Press reporter, Paul Harasim. He alleged Patrick once:

“grab[bed my wife’s] thumb and stomps her foot and then I proceed to beat the shit out of him, essentially. I think that is what any Texan should do in that situation. And he thought that this was great that he could make me do this after doing that to my wife.”

Serious charges—ones that the Austin American-Statesman’s Jonathan Tilove confirmed with Harasim’s wife, who added some charges of her own:

“He called me a ‘dirty Mexican,’ he stomped on my foot – he didn’t step on it, he stomped on it, and he pulled my hand back and hurt my finger. It wasn’t broken but it was seriously injured,” Maria Harasim, told me when I reached her last night in Houston, where she works the front desk of a hotel.

It was the 80s, man. People did a lot of crazy things.

4) There was Rob Henneke, a former Kerr County attorney, who finds himself in a runoff to replace state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran. Henneke is a man of action, a man who hopes to match his bold words with bold deeds:

“I’m very concerned about the infiltration of our society by Muslims right now in Texas,” Henneke told listeners. “I don’t think people are aware about how pervasive that has become in our society.”

5) And there was Amy Kushnir, who showed us one way to cope when people say things we don’t agree with. On a daytime talk show put on by a local station in Dallas, Kushnir found herself talking with her co-hosts about Michael Sam, the openly gay football player who was recently drafted by the St. Louis Rams. Kushnir became more and more agitated as her co-hosts discussed Sam, and his decision to kiss his boyfriend on-air after he learned that he’d be playing in the NFL.

In a video (now made private) that was widely circulated around the county, she characterized the kiss as not in keeping with the idea of “all-American sports,” before a heated argument caused her to take off her microphone and storm off the set, declaring loudly that she was “going to Midland.”

A day later, Kushnir had more to say about Midland than, you know, the other thing:

I felt like I had no choice but to get up, push myself out of the situation because we were going nowhere, as you probably saw, and we have a term around here that we say: we’re going to Midland. What that means is we’re going to excuse ourself from the conversation politely. And that’s what I did. I just decided it was time to go to Midland. And I went to Midland, and I’m back and I’m a happy camper, and I’m ready to move on. Next. Let’s talk about something else.

Midland, as all Texans know, is a tranquil, quiet, boring place devoid of controversy, external stimulae, or agita. Let us all find, this weekend, our own private Midland.