"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Boomtown, Oklahoma, energy icon

I heard somewhere that more than 5,000 people a month are moving to Oklahoma City in the past three  months, thanks to the job market, especially in energy. Boomtown. Perhaps not since the Run, or the 8os oil boom. Don't know.

Devon Tower, seen from The Womb, symbol of OKC's energy growth
But I do know an incredible amount of energy seems to sizzle from the place, a far cry from 20 years ago when downtown was dead, and the state was languishing. The transformation since the Murrah Federal Building bombing is nothing short of miraculous.
I can refer to many trends and incidents, and books have been written about this Dust Bowl, oil bust poor fly-over state changing. Yes, the state is more conservative politically than ever, but there's an undercurrent of energy different from oil and gas that bubbles toward the surface of young people and will change the state even more. 
Sure the conservative politicians brag about our independence, but the downtown transformation was a tax-supported effort, not free-enterprise. And the state still sucks heavily at the Federal teat , with Tinker, FAA, Altus , Enid and more...all of which they ignore, like the current mayor in his national speeches.
If there is one icon of the new energy I see-beyond revitalized Paseo, Plaza District, avant-garde new restaurants, excellent museums, The Thunder, The Devon Tower, and more--it is The Womb, owned by Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips,the weird, stereo-type knocking band that even makes the Neanderthal legislature nervous.
We recently attended the reopening of  this physcheledic gallery off Broadway, thanks to invitations by Jake Harms (future-son-in-law--artist and partner of cool step-daughter Alexx Reger) who manages it and who helped paint much of the  jarring exterior
Look at this place...it is not your stereotype of Oklahoma. Energy oozes from this place like oil and gas from Audrey McLendon's and Cheaapeake's fracking, to the more respectable towering influence of Devon energy's new dominating skyscraper...but it doesn't cause physical earthquakes...just cultural ones.
Me, at entrance of The Vagina, Photo by Susan
As and old-guy, I don't necessarily "like" the art inside, thought a drink inside the "Vagina" is, well, juicy and enervating  and fun. But it doesn't matter. You should see the young people (those under 40 at my advanced age) attending things like this.
This is the kind of energy that is revolutionizing Oklahoma, once old white guys have gone the way of drab buildings. You had to go inside the red-lit "Vagina" to get a drink. It was an adventure, and most of all, fun, because the people think life is supposed to be fun, not uptight.
Art and energy like this is infectious, impossible to ignore, among all the ho-hum or negative images of Oklahoma. Oklahoma's real energy industry isn't under the ground, but above it, in people who demand difference. It's not about being cool, I think, though many do. I think it's about creativity, pushing the boundaries--which is the real pioneer spirit--and having fun.


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