Thursday, July 31, 2008

How did Oklahoma get so cool all of the sudden?

When I was a kid, folks here in Arkansas didn't think much of Oklahoma.

It's not that we hated the state. It was more like we were just indifferent. Our attitude toward the place was pretty well summed up in the state motto -- "Oklahoma is OK."

OK? Well, OK just means not bad or fair-to-middling. It's really nothing to brag about, is it?

Generally, we Arkies headed to other border states for short vacations. There's a lot to do in Texas, after all, and Missouri has the St. Louis Cardinals. Memphis has been a destination as long as I can remember and the same is true of New Orleans. Want some War Between the States history? Why not see Vicksburg in Mississippi?

But Oklahoma? Most people who visited did so because they had family there and would complain of hot summers in which there was nothing to do but watch frogs fry on the pavement. Those of us who had fathers who graduated from the University of Arkansas heard tales about college kids making the short trip from Fayetteville to the Oklahoma line to buy Coors (even possessing that beer in Arkansas was considered bootlegging back then).

Over the past decade or so, however, that's all changed and Oklahoma has become a destination. All of the sudden, there's a heck of a lot to do over there. And I'm not talking about those blasted casinos and bingo halls, either (gambling dens are seedy and nasty regardless of whether the Cherokee Nation or the mafia is running them).

Here are just a few attractions that I find noteworthy, but there are a lot more.

Rocklahoma

Hell yes! a bunch of hair metal bands showing up for several days of fun. Yeah, you go ahead an laugh, but thousands of people flocked to Rocklahoma this year and last to watch their favorite pop/hair/cheese metal acts take the stage. Forget about all the mullets, bad tattoos, women who wear the same Iron Maiden shirts for five days straight and just think about the fact that a major festival has been drawing people from all over the country.

Here are just a few of the acts that appeared this summer -- Ratt, Sebastian Bach, Enuff Z'Nuff, Extreme, Living Colour, Ace Frehley, Kix, Queensryche, Tesla, Axe and etc. Yes, the list goes on and on and it must have been a heck of a great time.

Yes, I missed it for the second year in a row, but I'll be there next year (it kills me that I missed Enuff Z'Nuff, Ace Frehley and Kix this year). Rumor has it some of the bands that might show up are AC/DC and Metallica.

The NBA

Go ahead. Say it. "An NBA team in Oklahoma?" Say it a couple of times and it still doesn't make much sense because such a thing would have been impossible 10 years ago.

But they pulled it off and the Seattle Supersonics are heading to Oklahoma City. That's impressive right there and one has to wonder when the NFL and MLB will come calling Coincidentally, the team can't be called the Supersonics as that name must stay with the city of Seattle. Some of the names under consideration are the Barons, Bison, Energy, Marshalls, Thunder and Wind.

Frankly, I hope they avoid going with "Wind" as that will only remind people of tornadoes and God knows those things have brought enough bad luck to Oklahoma.

On a somewhat related note, every time I hear on an NBA team moving, I think of what happened back in 2001 when the Grizzlies were leaving Vancouver and were looking for a new home. One of the cities that was lobbying for the franchise was Louisville and the proposal was to emphasize the city's, uh, "Kentuckyness" by dubbing the team the Colonels and building an arena called the KFC Bucket.

Now, that's comedy. The Colonels playing ball in the KFC Bucket. It's almost too bad that Memphis wound up with the team.

Oklahoma Video Game Exhibition

Yes, the OVGE may be a minor event, but I enjoy it. The famed Atari 2600 may be the star of the show, but that event is almost like a working museum of video gaming history. You've got everything from the aforementioned Atari mentioned through more modern machines like the Sega Dreamcast, too.

Jesse Hardesty started that event in Tulsa back in 2004 and it has simply grown every year. Honestly, it's a very unique event in the Southwest and I've spent a lot of money at it over the years. By the way, did you know that there are still people making games for those classic systems? True story, and a lot of those homebrews are available at the OVGE.

The Hawg loves his Atari, Sega Genesis, Nintendo and Sega Dreamcast, and those systems are supported very well at events like the OVGE. Finding new and used games, consoles and equipment at good prices at one place is very appreciated. You might be surprised just how many people still love those old systems.

Conclusion

While some of what's going on in Oklahoma these days may not impress you, I've been simply amazed at the bits and pieces of culture that have been added to the state over the years. All of the sudden, you've got people heading off to Oklahoma to do more than travel on business, visit relatives or play golf on aggravatingly flat courses.

10 comments:

FishHawk said...

Enuff Z'Nuff???

Davidian said...

I thought of a few great names for Oklahoma's pro team:

"The Gays"
"The ShittyStaters"
"The Reservationists"
"The Injunators"
"The (Oklahoma City) Bombs"

Hope you all enjoy these!

The Natural State Hawg said...

Davidian:

DAMN!

The Natural State Hawg said...

Fishhawk:

Yep. Enuff Z'Nuff. One of my favorite power pop outfits that's still recording. Great band...

Hillbilly Willy -CDO said...

Willy has lived in Arkansas for almost 20 years so don't take offense that Willy is originally from the Lone Star State.

But about Oklahoma - we Willy was always told as a kid that the reason there was always such a strong wind from south to north in Texas is because Oklahoma Sucked.

Willy don't find it that offensive, but on a recent visit to the Indian Casino it did suck some money out of Willy's pocket.

Go Hogs

10-4 willy

The Natural State Hawg said...

Willy:

Hmmm. I always heard that Texas didn't fall in the ocean because Oklahoma sucks.

Same thing. Kinda.

You need to stay out of those casinos. Avoid them in Oklahoma, Tunica and everywhere else.

Particularly Tunica. That plays is just miserable...

lala said...

Yep...my dad was born in Okla...my mom in Tx (as was I), the majority of my family is in both those states...and because, especially in Fort Smith where I grew up, Oklahoma was spittin' distance the nasty comments were everywhere and on both sides.

For instance, when my dad found out he was being transferred to AR, everyone kept telling me I wouldn't have to wear shoes anymore.

And I heard the OK sucks joke like you heard it.

I moved away from FS in '98, and when I went back for the first time in 2005, I couldn't believe the amount of casinos that had popped up in that short amount of time.

However, there's always been some cool things to do in the state...Tsi La Gee (ok, I know I spelled that wrong) and we used to always go to Ok City for concerts, as we didn't get the "cool" ones in FS. Ok City always has their huge Red Festival every year, and Tulsa has some great art museums.

So it's not like the state was always completely without culture...lol..

The Natural State Hawg said...

lala:

Since I know you've got ties to Oklahoma, I figured you'd be by here at some point!

I know there have always been things to do in Oklahoma, but lately that state has been putting together events that draw people from around the nation rather than just the region.

That's significant, in my book!

lala said...

That's good honestly, I'm glad they are doing more...and God bless Carrie Underwood so Checotah could boast "hometown of American Idol Carrie Underwood"...my understanding is that Aiken is from Henryetta, per their sign, but he denies such claims...(ok, that's what my dad said and he's from Okla and hated the Cowboys once J.J. took over...hahaha)

the only thing I saw when I went back were those blasted casinos...I've never even heard of the "Sac and Fox" tribe (I think that was what they were called and I'm guessing they have like 100 members tops...lol)

I have very strong ties to three states in that region...that is true, and I never take offense to anything said about the other (at least if it's between the states, I don't..;-))

FishHawk said...

Hey Hawg, have you sent a draft notice for the ALL ARKIE ARMY LaLa's way yet??? Fort Smith is awfully close to being in Arkansas on the map.