Folks from other places, like the far side of the world, or New York City, probably think of California or Texas as slightly crazy but basically White European places with a quasi-British heritage, rather like theirs. This is entirely wrong, but a common belief. Heck, even some folks in California think that way.

The reality is that both were, in prior times, Spanish. It’s not just the Missions dotted around, nor all the Spanish place names, nor the history taught in class. It’s the families that have lived here on the same lands with title that starts with Spain. It comes up when doing a deed search. It is part of the basis of the land. Spain “had issues” and the Spanish Empire fell apart. Mexico claimed it owned huge tracts of what had been Spain. The USA and Mexico “had words”, and we collected The West… All told it was just a couple of dozen years that Mexico had much claim. In some cases closer to single digits.

Yet we run into folks with names like Sanchez and Vallejo who have family that have lived here since the 1700s…

But even that is not enough to explain what it means to be “from here”. These folks are my cousins, in some cases quite literally. (Or nieces or nephews or…) Yes, “you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family” still applies. Sometimes we get on each others nerves. Sometimes we shout at each other: “Learn The Language, pendejo..” and “Gringo oppressor!” then we find ourselves at dinner together, talking about WWE vs Lucha Libre and saying things like “pass the salsa y los buffalo wings”…

I don’t know when I learned Spanish, exactly, but I think the first time was at about age 4 when I met a “Mexican Kid” in the alley behind our homes. He had a red toy truck and was playing in the dirt. I added my toy truck to the mix and said “nice red truck”, he responded with something like “La trucke roja!” We were close friends until he joined the Navy and moved away. He learned to drink English Tea and hold his pinkey out. I learned to dump on 2 x the salsa verde when his “cousins” were talking about the gringo and putting 1/4 tsp on their tacos… and watched them get wide eyed when I ate it… Eventually I had 5 years of Spanish in grammar school and high school (and the Castillian messed up my Mexican something awful… it’s like Old English vs London Slang some times…) Poor Miguel was constantly raising his hand and asking “Isn’t it FOO?”, and getting an understanding look from Mr. Enrique while he explained “In Castillian it’s BAR, FOO is Mexican dialect.”

So yesterday I was in the grocery store. The clerk at checkout was a chica who had a name like “Gonzales” on her badge. I was putting frozen burritos, enchiladas, and chile relleno, along with mexican black beans and spanish rice ‘microwavable packets’ and a package of large tortillas on the counter… ( I can make tortillas, but they are too thick for making good burritos…) The person behind me was a young girl of that peculiar ambiguous ‘look’ we get here: Perhaps Hispanic, perhaps Asian, in a ‘misto’ kind of way… The counter next to us opened and the clerk announce open in English… Do I tell her it’s open? Did she not hear or does she speak Spanish? (She just didn’t hear… her mother showed up and I mentioned in English the other line… they responded in English with a slight indefinable accent).

My niece married a Hispanic guy. Didn’t realize it when I met him. Just another Red Neck Kid from farm country central valley California. Later saw the last name and asked. Some Mexicans have a more “European” look, others more Indian. There’s an internal racism inside Mexico over the degree of Spanish ancestry (perhaps fading over the last 1/2 century since I first learned about it from My Mexican Friend as be bragged on his high Spanish content…) The Niece’s kids are something. They have the bright eyes and energy of the Hispanic and the sort of Viking / Celt facial structure – fine hair of a dark henna red sort of brown. (She a redhead, he quite black hair). More energetic and full of life (and a devilish spirit ;-) than most kids. It’s a good mix.

So here I was, up to my eyeballs in My Mexican Heritage… A pure white (redhead gene don’t ever tan kind of pink-white) with a Mum from England and a Dad from Iowa of German / Irish ancestry. Yet I grew up “half Mexican” and we eat about 1/3 of our meals from a Mexican Menu. I’m as likely to ask for a Cerveza as a beer (especially at sporting events if the folks near me are speaking Spanish or if the guy behind the counter does or at the Mexican food stand or…) My wife has about 1/3 of her students as bilingual learners. She has meetings with Hispanic parents all the time (official translators provided, but she has some Spanish too for ‘unofficial’ communications) and paperwork sent home is usually bilingual. Voters pamphlets and many other things are bilingual. Heck, every package on the shelf in the store is usually Spanish / English labeled. Sometimes I’m reading what it says and half way through it realize I didn’t turn it to the English side (usually when I hit a strange word I don’t know…)

And I’m not the only one.

On one side, the neighbor was a guy who’s folks came from Mexico. Married to a blondish European type. (They have now moved to South America for a while). One child a blond, the other more brown. The other side neighbor is a “White Guy” of unknown ancestry that I’d guess is English / German / Irish of some sort (but could be French) or a mix of all of them. Your typical Average American Guy. He’s a company rep selling stuff to stores and as American as you can get. His wife is one of those “quasi Asian” dark types. I have no idea exactly what her heritage is, but I think it’s got some Mexican in the mix. They have a couple of daughters that are stunning. Nice, cheerful, “all American” kids, who just happen to have an exotic EurAsian look.

My point?

We just don’t care about crap like historical discrimination. It’s more a ‘conversation starter’ to ask about ethnic background than anything else. We are, quite literally, busy becoming “One Folk”.

There are some places where the stresses are higher. In some of the cities there are historical animosities between some of the barrios and other richer areas. But over time even they have faded. Pretty quickly folks are just “moving on”.

Where To From Here?

All of that got me wondering. Loads of Americans are retiring to Mexico. Loads of young Mexicans are moving to the north. We have large growth on the border where many factories are split 1/2 on each side. “Maquiladora” is the only word I know for them.


Clearly we are integrating our economies and our lives. So “play it forward”…

This isn’t just a “California Thing”. It’s true in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and other places as well. What could be more exemplary of that than “Tex-Mex” cooking? http://www.texmex.net/ has an example in their top page greeting: “BIENVENIDOS YA’LL”

So here’s my idea. Crazy off the wall idea. Never going to happen in my lifetime idea. (Yet I’m pretty sure it is inevitable in some ways as the region becomes what it is destined to be…)

Make the Regional Government of TexMexifornia. Let the USA and Mexico each continue to claim they “own” their respective parts. Let them have ultimate authority on the laws that apply in each part. But have a regional integration with regional rules made more consistent. Declare the States of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas along with the Mexican States of Baja California (both north and south) and the top tier states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, and Durango as TexMexifornia, a Free Trade Maquiladora writ large with a regional passport.

Basically, you get an endorsement that says “I live here” and it’s a free pass anywhere in the region for anyone. Perhaps just a State issued drivers license from one of those states. Tourists can head south with the retirees. Workers can head north. Factories and managers can move wherever works best for them.

What about the drug lords? Well, if you just stop the “war on drugs” that does nothing but ruin lives and burn money, they will cease to be an issue. If anybody who wants it can grow some grass, it will cease to have profit. It is not a terrible drug. (How do I know? I’ve smoked it. When in college. Stopped after about a year as I found it dampened my memory too much; yet a friend smoked much more and graduated Berkeley with a Law Degree and another made millions in real estate management; so clearly my experience was a bit idiosyncratic. At any rate, it’s not addictive and mostly just make you hungry and sleepy. Anyone who thinks were ‘controlling’ it now doesn’t go to many parties…)

If you look at a map of those Mexican States, the population density is fairly low. Most Mexicans live further south (like most Americans live in the North East) so it’s not like we’re going to have a space dominated by Mexicans. Yes, anyone could suddenly decide to ‘move to the area’. Most folks won’t. Heck, most folks won’t even move to the town next door, never mind another State or Country. To the extent they do, it would be part of creating even more economic growth. Folks don’t move to places that are in decline.

Mexico Population Map

Mexico Population Map

Original Image

The line from that “pokey bit” where Texas ends over to the other coast is about the lower edge of the states listed. An interactive map of the Mexican States where you can click on them for closeup views with roads and population is here:

On the northern end, anyone who thinks we’re going to be flooded with Mexican Immigrants has not bothered to notice that it’s already a “done deal”. Central Valley California, where I grew up, has many small towns that are now basically Mexican cities. My home town is on its way to that. Might as well admit it and put the passport check points at I-5, I-80, and I-15 (into Oregon and Nevada). Similarly, there is already an immigration check on I-10 in the middle of West Texas, so it’s not like folks haven’t already realized that places west and south of there are a ‘free range’ area…

I know I’d be more inclined to ‘hit the road’ down to Baja for a long weekend if all I had to do was flash the drivers license. Crazy talk? When I was about 5 years old, my Dad drove us over the border to Mexico for a visit. All he had was his drivers license. My mother was told not to talk (as her British accent would stand out and we’d left her passport at home – she was not naturalized yet… so technically a British Citizen entering America.. we kids had no papers…). I clearly remember sitting in the line of cars to the border check, Dad saying “California resident, returning home” and us driving through… THEN Mom could talk ;-)

So all I’m suggesting is to return to what it was once, accept the facts on the ground, and realize that the folks “out here” are already integrating our cultures and our lives.

(Frankly, if we could get BOTH the Mexican and the USA governments off our collective backs, I suspect that TexMexifornia would be even happier and more successful… but that’s “for later” ;-)

If folks “Back East” feel left out, they could do the same thing with Eastern Canada, they are all a bunch of Euro-French wanabes anyway ;-)

So that’s my muse for the day… time to make dinner. Burritos and quesadillas sound good.
( I ate the chile relleno yesterday ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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19 Responses to TexMexifornia

  1. Jerry says:

    Yeah, works for me, need some practice on my Spanish anyway. And if Acorn/Obama manage to steal the 2012 election it will look good to a lot of folks in the former America. Not quite Greater Texas but we can be flexible. :) Maybe just run on up through Oregon, little bit of Canada, to Alaska – see if they want in. Then ask if Putin is wanting to sell anything. Just a little walk-about down south far as Panama (or a little farther) to see who else might be interested. No pressure, just folks talking things over don’t ya know. Only Texas Rangers will be the baseball guys playing a few exhibition games – we promise. Those Drug Lord and La Raza people gotta go so maybe just a small one time exception – nobody really likes them anyway so they won’t be missed. A nice drive down Baja would be cool, but think about driving from Fairbanks to Puerto Williams. :) (Cape Horn) Hmmm, I can see Antarctica from my house.
    Tejas Libre !!!

    Totally unrelated topic I was gonna put in T4 or something but since I am here and it is just a couple of links…. Here are some odd folks from China area that got wiped out by Global Warming. They survived the Last Glacial Maximum and are no longer around so it MUST have been The Warming that did them in. (Hey, that is close enough to science for Climate ‘Science’) and my back is tired and I am hungry.

    short version:
    long version:

    Now for a small skillet 6″ dia. flat at the bottom, a yellow corn torttilla, a drop of oil, and a slightly beaten egg. Heat the skillet, spread the oil around, drop in the tortilla, pour the egg on top of it, drop on 5-6 drops of Tabasco, spread the egg around some, salt/pepper/whatever else you like on eggs, cook on low or medium/low until firm, dump out on plate, roll up like a tortilla ought to be and eat at the sink while looking out the window. Or do the egg sunny side up but be sure the yellow is firm. Can put a small glass lid over the egg to make the tortilla a little softer. Repeat as necessary.

  2. George says:

    Dude. You just invented NAFTA.

  3. Tom Bakewell says:

    Makes sense to me. I find most hispanics to have better manners and social customs that we display here in gringolandia.

  4. j ferguson says:

    Thanks for a very good post. People need to be reminded that everyone who comes here (or was always here undiscovered by the oblivious) adds rather than subtracts.

    Multilingual daughter’s Spanish – 7 years in public school topped off by year in Barcelona is regarded quaint in Mexico. Her Portugese can be pinned to Recife where her roommate at college was from.

  5. Power Grab says:

    Heh! I studied French in high school (2 years) and college (2 semesters). I almost never get to use it. My kid is studying it in high school, and we trade phrases once in a while. I do take an email newsletter or two that comes in French, because they’re not available in English. But after my family drove to San Antonio to spend Christmas Day with my brother (who was in basic training at the time), I decided I needed to pick up some Spanish. There wasn’t much to do in San Antonio on Christmas Day. At some point I had the best huevos rancheros ever on the River Walk. The Denny’s was open. We went up in some tower thing, I think. The zoo was open. I figured we were the only Caucasian family at the zoo that day. I couldn’t understand what everyone around me was saying, unless a member of my family was talking. If I didn’t have to work for a living, I think I would spend lots of time learning languages. So far, the best I have done is acquire some tejano music and Luis Miguel CDs and sometimes spend time with the Hispanic channels on TV or radio. I’d rather take a class. My sister has lived in Texas since the 1980s and says her level of understanding/fluency is about that of a second grader in elementary school. She had 3 years of German in high school.

  6. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: That would be the Chikanland!, however, just in order to preserve your identity you should overcome such a terrible version of Spanish language you speak. Nevertheless, you are already prepared to be an INDEPENDENT NATION!!, as you are so different that those strangers governed by a much more stranger New York´s elite worried about money, money and more money, though sometimes of islamic extremists, or the Gaza strip.
    You would be really happier. Even nature will cooperate, sending a “Big One” which will turn your state into a foreign island….

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    Things will be different in the future….it transpires from your article….. Kind of a Celtic prophesy!

  8. Verity Jones says:

    I love what you describe and the extrapolation of it. It is sort of geologist’s view of cultural and social integration – a sort of “Why are you guys always thinking on such short timescales? What’s a few decades or a century here or there?”

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    What’s wrong with my Spanglish? ;-)


    Like the recipe! Nice easy rollup… might want to sprinkle on some diced onion and tomato…maybe add some bell pepper and call it a Denver Tostada Rollup…

    @J. Fergusson:

    Sounds like a typical bit of Americana… Wonder if Florida / Puerto Rico would want in ?

    @Tom Bakewell:

    One of the things I find amazing is the Democratic attempt to turn the Hispanics into a racial divide. Many Mexicans are very conservative. Shows in those more formal behaviours. I think they are doomed to fail on that point. Heck, just look at TexMex culture. Pretty darned conservative… (in a Libertarian leave me alone don’t mess with Texas kind of way…)

    @Power Grab:

    Sounds like a typical kind of TexMexifornia experience. Texan is a language in it’s own right, in many ways. I’ve listened to my Texas Uncle talk for a couple of minutes and still not know what he was saying ;-) “Y’all gotta unrstant tha-thar all-hat-and-no-cattle Senator needs a good whompin next roundup…”


    Um, not NAFTA. I left out Canada and all of the Eastern USA (along with the Northern USA) and it is more about mobility than trade. So folks could have a job in Baja and live in San Diego and not need a passport. Folks from Sinaloa could just decide to have a weekend in Albuquerque and head out, no real pre-plan needed. Notice, too, that the bulk of folks in Mexico are also “out” in that the lower half (with most of the population) is also not included.

    Why not “the whole enchilada”? Mostly for political practical reasons. I think most Mexicans would not want an end to Mexico as an independent nation; and I think, most Americans would be resistant to a 1/3 Mexican average population of the USA/Mexican combine. I’m also fairly sure that Canada would be ‘uninterested’ in submerging it’s 34? Million folks as a 10% blend into a MexiUsa blend. Canada, as a nation, would evaporate…

    Would I mind if the USA and Mexico just made the Unidos States de America? Not really. As noted, we’re already forming a blended culture. In 2 or 3 more generations, almost everyone will have some relatives or ancestors from each group. ( it’s a math thing… if one in 8 folks intermarry, you have 12.5% ‘mix’ in one generation. Now you have another 12.5% from the original assumption, plus that prior 12.5% will have some percentage of ‘intermix’. ( You could assume anywhere from almost all to more modest). So you’ve got somewhere between 25% and 37% in two generations. Third generation you go to ‘majority related’… It’s been more than one generation already…

    So the reason it’s not NAFTA is that it is a regional orientation based on making a common culture and having personal mobility withing the region included. And all the other bits of NAFTA left out…

    (Though, frankly, if Canada wanted to just join in, that would be fine with me too. Maybe the Québécois could influence Louisiana to speak French again ;-)

    As one example of “life here”, there’s a local restaurant that (I just learned from their web page) began in Arizona:


    Yes, Carlos O’Brien’s Mexican Restaurant… Lots of Irish and Mexican Catholics, sitting in church together, saw something they liked in the other pew… While the name is a bit “cute” as a marketing gimmick, and I don’t know at all if there really IS a Carlos O’Brien: It is not at all unusual to find such naming paradox’s here. Asian folks with the last name of Goldberg or Heinrich. Blacks named Smith and Flores. (My Black Motorcycle Buddy was named Flores… as he married a Polynesian/Asian Pilipina, they have black/asian kids named Flores… ) Welcome to America ;-)

    At my last High School Reunion, a kid named Ozawa (Nisei Japanese) was introducing his German ancestry wife. While the kid named Tanamoto (2nd or 3rd generation) was hitting on a classmate of Italian heritage. My date (it was a long time ago, before I was married) was a Chinese lady (from the same class, born in the same hospital as I was, one day apart… so we’d been ‘together’ from birth through high school, but this was our first ‘date’). Since then the Hispanic percentage in the town has risen, so the “mix” will have more Hispanic flavor going forward…

  10. George says:

    One thing I have said in jest is to allow Mexico to annex the US. Then we hold elections, adopt the US Constitution, move the capital to Washington DC, and have a much sorter southern border to worry about.

  11. adolfogiurfa says:

    In a hundred years then you will have a US common race….BTW, a curious phenomenon happens to Italians, as when two similar languages mix, the original is lost, but worst of all (it´s a usual joke) when Italians go to Argentina they become, in a few minutes, Argentinians. It is told that an argentinian visiting Italy, exclaimed: There is a lot of argentinians here!
    Though in other places customs are harder to change: In the Argentinean and Chilean patagonia, there was a big german immigration (it´s even told that Hitler really died there- near Bariloche-), and they IMPORTED WILD BOARS just to feel at home, so there are a lot there in the forests down there. It is told, also that if you put one german together with another german, you have two germans, but if you add just one more you have an ARMY!! :-)

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, you pegged me! I have a ‘sliding time window’ and tend to look at things then think (in a visualization non-verbal kind of way) “slide zero time slide geologic time” and see what happens. In the static snapshot you see one image, in the geologic time scale, quite different, in between, something else… (middle is sometimes ‘historical perspective’ label…) So on a geologic time scale we’re likely replaced by a space faring species (or go extinct in place – rockfall … you can only dodge probability in the short run…). On a static scale, we have “conflict” and a “Mexican invasion”. On a ‘historical perspective’ basis, well, we’re just red and blue making royal purple… couple of generations on, most everyone here will have a mixture of all ancestries or as relatives. It’s just the way the math must work out.

    In Europe you can see some of the same thing (especially in the UK). Who are the British? A mix of Celts, Germanics, Romans. Who are the French? A mix of Celts, Romans, Germanics… Who are the Germans? (Especially those around Bavaria, Austria, Switzerland) A mix of Germanics, Celts, Romans… Only the order changes. (Remember that the Franks were a Germanic tribe that gave their name to France…)


    Can’t we leave the capitol in Mexico? It would cost less in taxes ;-)


    One of the “odd bits” is how different language groups and cultures react differently to a merge process. Germanics and Celts are quite happy to just ‘blend in’ and change. Latins less so. (France is soft of half and half). Italians also are sort of ‘half and half’. Easily swapping to English or Spanish, but continuing the major cultural norms (thank God! Another 1/3 or so of the typical cuisine here is of Italian origin ;-) Most non-adaptive are Muslims as they are bound to their book and that language in which it is written.

    There was a news snippet during the Ronald Reagan years. It said that in Russia there was some fuss being made about it, but in the USA nobody even noticed. That was the point where the USA had over 1/2 of the people with some German ancestry. Russia saw this as a worry, as they had been run over by a German Army a time or two. Here in the USA it wasn’t even noticed. (And anyone I mentioned it to, needed an explanation of why…) Then again, perhaps your “3 Germans” point is part of why the USA has armies spread all over the world… We have the German Urge, but the Italian-French attitude toward domination…. i.e. Is there a bar near here? And a beach? And what about a nice dinner place? Have money, looking for a party… not taking life too seriously…

    But yes, I suspect Argentina has a lot in common with the USA. Both have a load of German, Italian, Spanish, and British immigrants; just the relative rank changes. We have a load of French, too. Does Argentina? I suspect the USA got more Scots and Irish, but as the Argentine bagpipe band showed, a fair number ended up there.

    Frankly, other than the Language difference, the two places have a lot in common. Heck, we’ll even have a ruined currency and a welfare state too ;-)

  13. Verity Jones says:

    In my ‘visual’ mind a year is like a clock with 12 months – zoom in for weeks/days. If someone says ‘May’ I rotate round the the ‘5’ position, then to the actual day. My mental diary has events sitting on ‘days’ in whatever detail and context is appropriate. Providing a date/time gets ‘entered’ properly, I almost never forget – although ‘forgetting to check the diary’ is just as real a problem as a paper or electronic one.

    Move from one year to the next and we’re on the next turn of a continuous spiral or continuum of ‘clock faces’. Need to go back 10 or 20 years? the visual effect is more like a rolodex until I need to zoom into a date or event (if the memory of it is certain enough). After that timescales become more like Google Maps – zoom in/out as needed but on a linear scale – century – millenium – eon.

    Want to add geographical or cultural detail? – we’re probably still in ‘Google Maps’ territory. I just wish my visual memory had been this well developed at school – I might have done better at history!

  14. Pascvaks says:

    First I was all “Sure, why not!” (Kind’a like I felt about Obummer). Then I was sure it would never work (Kind’a like I am about Newt now). Now I’m kind’a in-between (Sort’a Romney-like). I really do think it’s all up to the Mexicans, it’s their checker board; what ‘we’ want doesn’t hold much water or sway (and the ‘water’ issue is a very big part of life and death in northern Mexico). I think Californians would be in a bind if Mexico insisted on a fair share of Colorado River water in exchange for better anything. I don’t have faith in politicians of the People’s Republics of Kalifornia or D.C. –it’s kind’a sort’a 1861 Deja’Vu All Over Again Time. By the way, don’t we need something more than a driver’s license now to get into Canada, and come back too? (Haven’t been up there since the Montreal World’s Fair;-)

  15. adolfogiurfa says:

    And what about Alaska and their favorite dish, as Sarah Palin described it: “Endanger´s species meat with mashed potatoes !!

  16. Pascvaks says:

    FWIW, it appears that the higher the percentage of “Protestants” (or Northern Europeans) the more stable the Government, there does appear to be something to it. The Reformation appears to have had a tremendious impact on government stability, though it does seem to be dying now. The Southern European’s clustered arount the Roman Church, and as it’s influence dies, there is no “Protestant Ethic” (or history) in their mix to rely on for government stability. Think, maybe, the Big Picture has some pretty BIG parts? ;-)

  17. Richard Ilfeld says:

    Could happen sooner rather than later. A California that passes the tipping point on paying its bills will need reorganization. Possibilities;?
    Drill Ca domestic Oil and Gas…..(ha ha ha ha ha)
    Default (How – no state bankruptcy laws).
    Reorganize….. is the jurisdiction federal, or a convention of the willing?…. perhaps into several states …which opens the door to what you’re talking about.

    America has always been unique as a nation based on an idea – welcoming believers rather than being restricted to a single “tribe”. We are already committed to a 51st state of Puerto Rico if they wish it. Adding Norte Mexicali and Baja isn’t really much of a stretch. Making San Francisco into a Monaco will be harder!

  18. Power Grab says:

    Ummm…I wasn’t clear. The reason I couldn’t understand people in San Antonio was that they were speaking Spanish.

    Okies aren’t that far removed from Texans, insofar as English (so-called) is concerned. They do have their colorful figures of speech, though!

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @Power Grab
    I’m impressed! Someone who can tell Spanish from Texan when both are unintelligible ;-)

    (Fact is, I can now understand Texan, it took about 20 minutes to just track the accent first time I heard it about 50 years ago. Over time I’ve added a basic understanding of the ‘colorful speech’ aspects. Still can’t generate it, though… http://donnasue.net/How_to_Talk_Proper_Texan.html has such useful phrases as: Crooked as a barrel of snakes, frog strangler, galoot, Larrupin’, fine as frogs hair, and “You Can Always Tell a Texan, but You Can’t Tell Him Much.”)

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