Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A GIANT Landscape

I spent Spring Break exploring the region of West Texas represented in Giant, and, appropriately, watched the film along the way. In fact, we stayed at El Paisano Hotel in Marfa to round out the week: the hotel where the actors relaxed after shooting. I never did get straight exactly whose room it was we were staying in, but it was one of the big three, and they enjoyed a great balcony. A warning before I go on: it took 4 separate viewings to actually finish the movie Giant. Get ready for a worthy marathon.

The movie was fantastic. It walks you through the height of big Texas ranching, through the oil prospecting 20's and 30's, all the way to the era of "progress" when the film was shot (1959). It shows you just how these two great industries learned to occupy the same land, tapping into separate but seemingly inexhaustible resources.

Few other industries have made it that far into the Pecos region of Texas, giving a visit the surreal sense of stepping back in time. Windmills are popping up a hundred miles further east - a bit closer to transmission capabilities. But the reasons that make west Texas a fairly inhospitable environment also make it a prime location for the renewable energy boom we all hope to witness. The average windspeed is enough to blow you off of your feet if you happen to slouch. The sun will bake you unrecognizable in a matter of hours if you forget your hat and sunscreen. Try hiking out into that territory for a few days, carrying your own water and food (good luck catching a jackrabbit), and your respect for the local cattle population and early farmers will quadruple.

Unrelated to energy, but still worth noting, is how faithfully Giant presents the human rights and racial prejudice issues in Texas history (and present, for that matter).

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