"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Monday, November 13, 2006

Regional identity crisis

A pine tree by any other name would be -- what? Still a pine tree. And therein lies the absurdity of whatever marketing brain-trust has convinced area civic leaders and chambers of commerce of the need to "re-brand" the part of Texas I live in. For many years, our chunk of the state -- roughly bounded by Houston and Beaumont to the south, Tyler to the northwest corner, and the Louisiana state line to the east (see the green shaded area of the map on the right) -- has been simply known as "East Texas", or "The Pineywoods". But apparently that's no longer good enough to lure tourists and new residents, so these geniuses are attempting to come up with a regional moniker that will somehow make more people want to visit and/or relocate to this area. Examples of successful regional names used by other parts of the country might include "The Texas Hill Country", "The Rocky Mountains", "The Golden Triangle", "The North Country", "The Gulf Coast", and "Las Vegas", just to name a few.

For years, "The Pineywoods" has seemed like an appropriate description of this area, because the main topographical feature of East Texas is trees, lots and lots of them. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'll take a peaceful forest, with secluded lakes and gentle rolling countryside, over a crowded, polluted city any day. (Except, of course, when shopping and dining is involved.) But according to an editorial in the local paper:
"The emphasis on trees might lead those who have never been here to imagine that we're nothing but a giant tangle of trees, and only one kind of tree, at that. Certainly, there's no mistaking that we abound with trees and forests, but we've got much more to offer. We're a region rich in Texas history. Our area abounds with lakes and rivers, national and state parks. Most people who have never been to East Texas have no idea that there is a part of Texas — our part — that more resembles an English countryside than it does a Hollywood version of Texas."
But what to call it? Here are a few ideas from a recent contest soliciting suggestions (somehow I suspect that some of these may be more tongue-in-cheek than others):
  • • Abitibi’s Bitch (Abitibi is a big local lumber/paper company)
  • • Baja Rivercrest
  • • The land north of the Gulf of Mexico, East of Interstate 45, South of the Red River, and West of the Sabine, excluding Houston and Dallas
  • • BeauTylerAna (Beaumont-Tyler-Texarkana)
  • • Angelachia (from a prominent area river, the Angelina)
  • • Hoo-Hooville
  • • Greater Rivercrest
With the possible exception of "Hoo-Hooville", I don't really care for any of these either. Over at The Critical Poet, a Steve Morgan writes:
"As far as I can tell there are about three things in East Texas: mobile homes, Baptist churches, and catfish restaurants. Lord, the catfish restaurants. Crazy Catfish, Ken's Catfish, Catfish Cabin, King Catfish. None of these features of East Texas lend themselves to a catchy moniker, though I suppose the local boosters could go with Catfish Country -- requiring everyone to overlook the the fact that a catfish is a hideous looking, bottom dwelling scavenger."
Hey, there we go: "Land Of The Hideous-Looking Bottom-Dwelling Scavengers". Perfect.


  • At 11/13/2006 12:39:00 PM, Blogger Bake Town said…

    Thanks Mr. Toast! I like you're stuff too. I was just in Austin this past Sep. Texas is a very interesting place.

  • At 11/13/2006 05:56:00 PM, Blogger Sphincter said…

    Figured I'd cruise over here to check out your blog, since you were kind enough to comment on mine. Yours is all fancy. I feel so inferior...

    Gotta tell you, I've never been to Texas, but a place called Hoo-hooville just might get me there.

  • At 11/13/2006 06:26:00 PM, Blogger SupaCoo said…

    I'm stalking Sphincter (and she thought I was just joking...) and found your site. I noticed in your profile one of your "intersts" is pulmonary fibrosis, which is, well, interesting because my father-in-law just got diagnosed with IPF.

    Anyhoo-hooville, your site is fantastic and I shall return!

  • At 11/13/2006 06:26:00 PM, Blogger SupaCoo said…

    *ahem* can we pretend for one second that I can actually SPELL?


  • At 11/13/2006 06:42:00 PM, Blogger Chandira said…

    Pineywoods is nice!! They should stick with that, it says it all.

  • At 11/13/2006 06:49:00 PM, Blogger Janelle said…

    I vote for Hoo-hooville.

    I also have to send along a HUGE thank you to you from the OB department of Mercy Hospital in Devils Lake, ND. I showed them the information that you sent me. They are very greatful that you did that and all the nurses say "Thank him so much for us." My cousin's daughter was, and has been, the only case of OPD that they have ever seen and are greatful for all the educational information.

  • At 11/13/2006 06:53:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Toast said…

    Wow - new readers! Welcome, glad you stopped by. Thanks for the compliment, Sphincter (great name, BTW!), but nothing fancy here, just trial and error ... mostly error. Supacoo, sorry to hear about your father in law. I was diagnosed three years ago, it ain't no fun as I'm sure you know. If you or your FIL would like to email, I'd be glad to share. mrtoast (at) cox (dot) net.

    Thanks y'all.

    PS: Janelle, glad I could help. I hope she does OK.

  • At 11/14/2006 12:29:00 AM, Blogger Jim said…

    what happened to Eastex, although Temple-Eastex might be more appropriate:)


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