Monday, October 22, 2012
Big Tex Grief Support Group forms on Facebook in wake of Friday’s fiery loss
Pour out a little fried beer in requiem.
DALLAS The event just lends itself to metahumor: While many of the thoughts and feelings expressed in the wake of Big Tex’s blazing Friday demise have expressed a very real sense of nostalgia and sadness, the situation was, at its core, too absurd to resist a gentle joke or two. As the old adage goes, “You might as well laugh as to cry.”
Which is why the Facebook page, “Big Tex Grief Support Group,” with more than 3,100 likes since its weekend inception by Dallas writer Raine Devries, seems particularly appropriate. When the news broke, Devries said she immediately saw her Facebook newsfeed flooded with status updates. "I thought to myself, it's just a matter of time before someone creates a page as a public record of it," Devries said.
So, she created the page which she describes as simultaneously satirical and memorial. Over the weekend, friends Ricardo Paniagua and Jenice Johnson were added as admins to help moderate the influx.
"I’ve gone through and read every comment," Devries said. "The response has been really intriguing -- some people have said, 'are you all for real?'"
In this sense, the page is not to be taken too seriously. For instance, one commenter imparted advice toward “Grieving with Comfort Food” by posting a Corny Dog Tex Mex Casserole recipe to the wall – an echo of the “corny dog bouquets” that visitors have been placing at the “grave-site” at Fair Park. Others, have commented questions regarding “pending autopsy reports” on Big Tex’s seemingly spontaneous combustion or added joking pictures of Big Tex, like one where he is depicted as Jedi Knight alongside Yoda. Some have even presented conspiracy theories, alleging that Big Tex was going to be rebuilt this winter anyway, so his final engulfment was an “inside job” meant to garner publicity for the State Fair by sending locals into a frenzy.
But, while many of the posts have been in good fun, others express a true sense of sadness. A photo by Karen Foster shows Bill Bragg, better known as the man behind Big Tex’s friendly voice, overtaken with emotion before the skeletal remains and a bright azure sky. Others have mentioned that Big Tex was a representative embodiment of “Southern hospitality” and hometown values, a larger-than-life Texan always smiling and waving, pointing the way with a gentle “Howdy.”
"Yes, it’s partly satire," Devries said, "But, it’s a bit like the death of Santa Claus for some people. Even with the most over-the-top comments, you know there’s a thread of reality. For locals, that’s a place our parents took us as kids. It’s where you’d meet your friends."
On the topic of Mayor Rawlings' assertion of Tex's promised reboot, she added, "I know they'll probably rebuild him 'bigger-and-better,' but we are truly hoping to see his same face as he waves."
Overall, Devries says the page's reception has been "interesting," but that it has been a fun experiment seeing Dallas' response in losing a beloved landmark. And, despite the fact that the page does gently make light of the loss, Devries added, "I do think it’s sweet that people have brought out the bouquets to the site."
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