In 1985, the Texas Department of Transportation was looking for an anti-littering slogan. Eventually, “Don’t Mess with Texas” was emblazoned on road signs across the state and is credited with greatly reducing litter on Texas highways. The phrase has since become a staple of popular culture.
What made me think of that?
Last Tuesday, the web site of a local television group in Santa Clarita, Calif., published a commentary written by Darryl Manzer, who is, apparently, a former Cadiz resident.
The column – wittily headlined “Cadiz, Ca-don’t” – is an odd attempt at making a connection between our community and upcoming elections in the Santa Clarita area.
Whether by design or not, it’s actually a slap in the face to the people that call Cadiz home, from recent transplants to folks with deep family roots here.
Here’s a snippet:
“There isn’t much to do in Cadiz after 6 o’clock ... in the morning. The one “upscale” coffee and sandwich shop burned down a year ago. The other lunch place closed, and the remaining place has food comparable to that found in high school cafeterias.
“Heaven forbid any vegetables served in this part of the country are fresh. If it doesn’t come from a can, it must be bad.”
Manzer continued, noting our community has “lots of charm but seems to do everything just a little bit wrong.” He also took potshots at the downtown antique stores (“There are some real antique items here. And then there is what was left in an old garage and placed in the ‘store.’”) and the recent wet-dry election, on which he placed blame for our “bad burgers and institutional vegetables.”
I first learned of the commentary on Thursday. At that time, the comments section attached to it contained two responses, both from Cadiz folks. The last time I checked on Friday, that total had passed 50. Again, the majority of the comments were from local folks (I presume, as I recognized many of the names and don’t suspect any Internet trolls were pretending to be very specific, non-public Cadiz residents).
At some point, Manzer had left a comment that included an apology, but it didn’t seem to stem the tide of vitriol headed in his direction.
Monday morning, I went back to the website for further reference, but the commentary had been removed, and no explanation was left behind.
If ever there was a time to coin a “Don’t Mess with Texas”-style slogan for Cadiz, perhaps this is it.
Cadiz isn’t the dregs of the United States. Most of the people who work and live here do so by choice. We try to make this community as welcoming as possible to anyone who passes through.
But clearly, the moral of the story is this: Hit us, and we’ll hit you back.
Part of last week’s column was a reminder about the deadline for our Baby Brag/Pet Pride special section. Then it got very cold. So this week’s column carries the same reminder – the deadline is Thursday. And if it’s still cold for you to go outside (and I completely understand if it is), email the photo to us and call in your payment.
The section will be in next week’s issue. I promise.
Justin McGill is general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.