Posted by: emjb | March 23, 2007

In my hometown

Have you ever searched for videos on Youtube using your hometown as the search term? It’s kind of like Googling an old boyfriend’s name. What you learn may alarm you, frighten you, or just make you glad that you dumped him before he took up an interest in 17th-century snuff pots.

My hometown is Arlington, Texas (Fun Central!tm), a place situated exactly between Dallas and Fort Worth, the tertiary, southernmost point in the sprawling, suburban, SUV-choked megalopolis that calls itself, rather uncreatively, The Metroplex.

Once a humble farm town, Arlington has become the biggest city in the US that refuses to invest in public transit, and has a long history of pimping itself for any entertainment monstrosity that will bring in the tourist bucks; Six Flags, the porntastically named Wet n’ Wild, Dubya’s boondoggle of a stadium for the Texas Rangers, and now, the new stadium for the Dallas Cowboys.

A-town is overrun with gridlock, potholed and falling apart in some places, beset with smog, and priding itself on a “lake” that is nothing but an oversized pond. Just down the road from Six Flags is a deserted mall, a place I remember shopping in with my mom, that could now be used in a zombie-movie remake with almost no changes whatsoever. Arlington is also home to the other UTA, a place where I held one of the worst jobs (and the lowest pay) of my professional life. The university buildings dominate what remains of downtown, and have all the charm of cracker boxes. They were built in the 60s and 70s and lovingly insulated with that wonder fiber, asbestos; insulated so well that the city fathers eventually decided removing it would be more dangerous than leaving it in. Which is why, if you work there, you have to get a hazmat permit to drill holes in the wall. (This is ABSOLUTELY true).

The GM plant has laid off most everyone, the jobs in Dallas and Fort Worth are getting fewer, and the traffic never improves. Arlington is a place you sleep and grocery shop, but…that’s about it. Culture, good music, entertainment that doesn’t cost you 50 bucks at the door is elsewhere.

It does have a lot of chain restaurants, though. And my childhood memories. So I’ll always like it, even if just a little bit.

But as Youtube is teaching me, there are a lot of aspects about it I never knew.

For one, it’s home to a very enthusiastic trainspotter, so much so that his (I assume it’s a he) videos are the most common results under a search for Arlington. If you ever want to know what the Amtrack 22 heading to Dallas via the Center St crossing of the UP Dallas Sub looks like, you’re all set.

There are also quite a few promotional videos for SitMeansSit, a local dog-obedience outfit. I wonder if they understand how very weird it is to name your business with a riff on an anti-rape slogan. I don’t really want to think about the implications of that.

There are many other attractions in Arlington. There’s Frosty Wooldridge, who fancies himself a 21st century Paul Revere..except he’s not warning us against the British coming in the dead of night, but the Mexicans coming to invade us…though we invaded them first…though…hmm. Basically, he’s a racist jerkoff.

Need a tattoo? We’ve got you covered. IN INK!

You can, if you like, enjoy watching toddlers Tae Kwan Do the crap out of each other.

If that makes you feel guilty, you can watch this video about Camp Impact summer camp for homeless/needy kids. About 2 minutes in, you see a lemur!

“But forget lemurs,” I hear you saying, “what about REPTILES?” Oh, we’ve got that covered too. Meet Tell Hicks, Reptile Artist.

Only one thing can top that, my friends: some footage of a half-dozen idiots getting their truck out of a muddy ditch accompanied by some highly appropriate music (I salute this video’s editor). It seems to sum up so much about the place and the people that shaped my growing up. The Mrs. Baird’s thrift store snack cakes; the rumors of Satanists that plagued our local parks; Nickel Beer Nite at the previous incarnation of Arlington Stadium.

Good times, except that they really weren’t; oh well. Maybe better ones might come along. In the meantime, we can all bask in the glow of our friendly neighborhood Elvis impersonators riding minibikes.



  1. No more hot dog huts, though. ’tis a shame.

  2. Matter of fact, there are fewer businesses in huts these days. Used to have the photo hut, the sno cone hut, the taco hut, and on and on. Why has America forsaken its huts? This will be the subject of my upcoming one-man show, America: The Hut.

  3. They used to have Java Hut, but they ran it into Sarlacc after Java tried to kill Han and all his buddies.

  4. Yeah, the Sarlacc. Rancor’s too good for ’em.

  5. Now we have the Parks Mall and The Highlands Shopping Village in I-20 to replace the Forum and Six Flags Mall (In fact, Forum 303 is being demolished as I write, but Six Flags Mall is still lurching along) AND they’re going to start selling beer at Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor, so it’s not all bad! šŸ˜‰

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