Letters From Austin

Ron van der Ende, On Re-Entry (Burning Log), 2010. Image courtesy of the artist and AMBACH & RICE.


As Texas burns, prayers are answered in the form of a feathered-haired governor. It’s a good thing he already knows how to beat down the devil.

As Michelle Bachmann, Pat Robertson, and other meteorologists have been reminding us lately, disasters such as the earthquakes in Haiti, Japan, and Washington, and the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and along the Eastern seaboard of America, are not the products of global climate change, but of God’s wrath, invoked as punishment for our legion of sin.

Here in Texas, we’re also dealing with a real-deal disaster in the form of fire. Waves of it. Over 1,400 homes destroyed, untold acreage scorched to molecular levels, and the livelihood and lives of our citizens is in peril. Talk about waxing hot deliverance. On the flip side, Texas has been on fire for about a year now, literally, so we are growing accustomed to this Gomorrah, although I must admit that sometimes I feel like old Job, when his messenger tells him, “The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them.”

Now I don’t have any sheep (one maid, with papers) and that particular passage is from the Jewish part of the Bible, which I grant is scandalous, but doesn’t merit a conflagration of this magnitude. So to what do we owe the skies on fire? Easy: the federal government.

Gov. Perry avers that we can handle ourselves down here, and I believe it. That’s why he’s slashed the Forest Service (an agency swollen with vampires and vegans) budget and cut fire department funding by 75 percent, leaving us with a hose and a prayer. The hose isn’t doing much, but I can tell that prayer is helping. In fact, I know it’s helping.

How do we pray here in Texas, you may ask? We pray big, cowboy.

Why, just a few months ago, our governor assassinated a coyote while jogging. Do you have any idea the carnage inflicted on the citizens of Texas because of these travesties of nature? Any idea how many Texans coyotes have killed in the last hundred years? At least three. Prayer answered.

But right now, Texas needs money and supplies, and what’s the government providing? OK, those two things, but also sin. This is how they get you—through liberal charlatanry and double-talk, these vessels of the devil in Washington. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing here to take your money and your soul, and the sheep clothes, wherever they sell those. Now railing against the government doesn’t get one very far, so I’m not sure why Gov. Perry keeps doing it, but Perry works in mysterious ways, like God, to whom we pray.

How do we pray here in Texas, you may ask? We pray big, cowboy. So big, in fact, that we had to all go down to Reliant Stadium in Houston for The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis, Perry’s battle royale against the devil. It was like Foreman vs. Ali out there. Perry was bobbing and weaving, perpetrating the rope-a-dope, biding his time as the devil chased him around the ring like a big idiot. Then bam, and Perry raised his hands to the sky and 30,000 strong prayed to the point of anal prolapse, and then waited.

We’re still waiting for like a more comprehensive solution, but I can tell you my prayer beat the crap out of Albert Pujols’s prayer, as he struck out four times across town at Minute Maid Park—and he even crossed himself, which to me is unfair spiritual juicing. But the fact is, the fires are still raging, the federal government won’t stop “helping,” and the Astros are going to lose three bills this year without breaking a curve.

Texas has the power to secede from this sinful Union if we feel like it, leaving the rest of the country to wander around with no infrastructure, eating each other.

But do we look worried? Do we look like we’re just hanging out like people do around death, gulping it down, savoring the drama? No sir. That’s Rick Perry’s job, but know that he has a trick up his chaps; something that will solve all our problems and, God willing, even get Kitty back to her litter box:

As Perry is keen to remind us, Texas has the power to secede from this sinful Union if we feel like it, leaving the rest of the country to wander around with no infrastructure, eating each other like in The fucking Road, stymied, burned to bubbles and unable to follow-through on its own metaphors, sort of like Texas right now, actually. Well this is how we want it, I think!

That’s right: This steaming, frothy firepot we call the Lone Star State is flying hot for independence from sin, from government intrusion and the crawling menace of the U.S. Constitution (aside from the 10th Amendment and the one about guns). We’ll have a new Constitution here in Texas. One where prayer takes precedent over the president. One where we ascend out of this creepy, mediocre Copernican system and set ourselves solid in a new foundation, one where Galileo is a kind of pizza, or calzone, and the federal government burns out in its preposterous, rotating Earth.

Put your hands together and pray with Governor-President Perry and me. Come join us in Texas. See what we’re about, unless you’re down on prayer or an illegal immigrant. Are you still praying? Try not to hex Albert Pujols and concentrate. Can you feel the fire waning? Can you sense the quench of hellfire? Is the federal government out of the picture yet? Can Texas finally execute the mentally ill in peace? Are you feeling it? I’m feeling it. It’s getting hot in here, isn’t it?

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye…
…Abandon hope, all y’all who enter here.

Described as an “up-and-coming humorist” by Esquire, Tyler Stoddard Smith’s works have been featured in: The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes, The Best American Fantasy, Esquire, Meridian, Opium, Pindeldyboz, Identity Theory, Yankee Pot Roast, Word Riot, Barrellhouse, Monkeybicycle, Johnny America, and McSweeney’s, among others. He is also a regular contributor at The Nervous Breakdown and serves as an associate editor of the online humor site, The Big Jewel. Visit his website. More by Tyler Stoddard Smith

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