My favorite things Oklahoma

by on February 21, 2013 at 4:16 am in The Arts, Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Humorist: It is hard not to pick Will Rogers.  But was he funny?  You tell me.  I’ll go with Chuck Norris.

2. Jazz musician: Charlie Christian, and as runner-up Chet Baker.

3. Folk music: Woody Guthrie, here is Do Re Mi.

4. Popular music: Eddie Cochran, and overall the music categories are turning out better than one might have expected.  I feel there should be lots in country music but I could not tell you who that might be.

5. Musical, set in: Duh.  A favorite of my favorites.

6. Novelist: Ralph Ellison.

7. Painter: Ed Ruscha.

8. Outlaw: Pretty Boy Floyd.

9. Movie, set in: I can think only of Rumblefish.

Here are images of Tulsa Art Deco.

People, this is an underrated state.  I hope to end up there later tonight.

1 Corey February 21, 2013 at 4:28 am

My favorite Academic has to be Joshua Landis at the university of Oklahoma. He’s the head of middle eastern studies there and is doing a great job covering the Syrian civil war at his blog

2 Gabriel E February 21, 2013 at 4:41 am

Not much of a fan of these guys but country singers from Oklahoma include:

Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton.

Leon Russel is also apparently from Oklahoma (to my surprise).

3 Peter the Shark February 21, 2013 at 4:47 am

Underrated how? Would you put it even in the top 30 of American states worth visiting?

4 Ted Craig February 21, 2013 at 7:11 am

All states are worth visiting unless you’re a close-minded snob.

5 Michael February 21, 2013 at 8:28 am

Well, more like, if you get a chance, you should see the whole country. I don’t think I’ve been to all 50, but, I’ve been to nearly all 50. I’m happy I’ve been, but not every place gives you that, “wow, I’ve got to come back here,” feeling.

Take a random individual from somewhere within the US, give them a set vacation budget and a menu of choices, I’m not sure OK ranks very high. And I say that as someone who actually does visit there a few times a year. For example, my family likes camping at Turner Falls. It’s a pretty good spot, probably our second favorite place to camp within a 3 hour radius of where we live. Is it in my top ten for the country? Probably not.

Oklahoma, like all places, has some good stuff in it. Does it have more “good stuff” than most states? I’m not so sure. No doubt, some people find it perfect. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

6 Urso February 21, 2013 at 10:10 am

“Take a random individual from somewhere within the US, give them a set vacation budget and a menu of choices, I’m not sure OK ranks very high. ”

Ah, but this does not weigh against Prof. Cowen’s thesis. It may even support it. A random selection of people who (presumably) know little to nothing about Oklahoma assume that it sucks. That’s halfway to proving that it’s underrated.

7 Pete February 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Agree. If you can’t entertain yourself for 2-3 days in any location, you’re not a very interesting person.

8 FWG February 22, 2013 at 11:19 am

Very true Pete. I think there is some utility in the phrase “only boring people get bored.”

9 MD February 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Was born there. When it’s overcast, the green grass on the rolling hills really pops off the red clay. For a place that doesn’t have any mountains, deserts, or large bodies of water, it’s not half bad. Especially nice if you like wind.

10 RonB February 21, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma, the Ozarks spill over into part of eastern Oklahoma as well as the Ouachita Mountains from Arkansas. OK they are not the Rockies but mountains nonetheless. Western Oklahoma is as close to desert as you can get without sand, if you don’t count the Little Sahara (1600 acres) sand dunes near Waynoka. What constitutes a large body, Lake Texoma 89,000 acres, and Grand Lake 46,000 acres, and the largest Lake Eufala 102,000 acres. As to wind, the summers in western Oklahoma would be unbarable without it, long stretches of 100+ days, but its a dry heat. That said I am glad to be From Oklahoma.

11 MD February 21, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I moved to Idaho, which has truly impressive mountains (Sawtooths!), deserts (sand dunes!) and non-man-made bodies of water (Coeur d’Alene!). I get what you’re saying, though.

12 RPLong February 21, 2013 at 7:25 am

It also has a pretty labyrinthine bureaucracy.

13 Ryan T. February 21, 2013 at 7:28 am

Annie Proulx spends half her time in OKC, doesn’t she? Having said that, my favorite by her is “The Shipping News,” which is set in Newfoundland, CA.

14 Ryan T. February 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I remembered later today that she writes from Wyoming. Tough luck, OKC. At least you still have the Thunder.

15 Andrew' February 21, 2013 at 7:36 am

Will Rogers was solidly humoruos, which seems to meet the qualifications of being a humorist.

16 Orange14 February 21, 2013 at 7:58 am

Also one of the greatest college football coaches in history, Bud Wilkinson, whose team still has the record for consecutive victories without a defeat.

17 Steve-O February 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I’m not sure Wilkinson is even the best at his school (Barry Switzer could make a strong case). Neither hails from Oklahoma, though.

18 albert magnus February 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Darrell Royal was from Oklahoma and was also good at beating Oklahoma.

19 johnshade February 21, 2013 at 8:13 am

You left out one of the greatest beaver-shooters in history:

20 zaoem February 21, 2013 at 8:18 am

No Grapes of Wrath mention?

21 Todd February 21, 2013 at 8:25 am

Films: Cimarron (twice) and True Grit (twice)

22 David February 21, 2013 at 8:34 am

Garth and Reba

23 Edward Burke February 21, 2013 at 8:40 am

I know now only because I checked that Merle Haggard was BORN in California: however, nevertheless, on the other hand . . . and yeah, Bakersfield is IN California, technically, officially, and formally, but . . . .

24 Jameson Burt February 21, 2013 at 8:42 am

Connect Oklahoma to economics.
It’s state motto is “Labor Conquers all Things”, out of date for a Republican state. In celebrations, the main motto is “Stake your claim”, as if they can get a free lunch. I’m intrigued by their Osage Oranges, green and symmetrical throughout. Oklahoma City might still have its motivational radio station, which aids the business mind every which way. I’m surprised at how many of their own students their universities hire as students. Oklahoma’s Indians were the world’s top runners and athletes. Andy Payne won the 1928 race across America covering 3400 miles. Jim Thorpe entered the 1912 Olympics, after which King Gustaf of Sweden pronounced him the greatest athlete in the world.

25 Dan D February 21, 2013 at 8:54 am

While Eddie Cochran was a fine popular musician, Oklahoma is also home to the great J J Cale and Leon Russell, I’m not sure that Eddie should be ranked ahead of John or Leon.

I must admit to a lack of appreciation for the OKC area, although Tulsa and much of the eastern part of Oklahoma is more to my liking. OKC ranks with Red Stick as one of the least appealing state capitals I have visited.

26 mbutuomalley February 21, 2013 at 9:41 am

Have you visited OKC recently? I live outside of Tulsa but frequently work in OKC. Their attempts to revive the downtown area are really nice. They’ve also taken an interesting strategy for financing their revitalization projects. I know there’s been a historic cultural bias towards Tulsa as the “nice” part of Oklahoma but I’d rather be in OKC these days.

27 Bill February 21, 2013 at 8:58 am

The Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

28 Bill February 21, 2013 at 9:14 am
29 a.concerned.reader February 21, 2013 at 9:01 am

Since Will Rogers was concerned about people without a job, thought that was the problem facing the country, no wonder you dislike him.

Okla has only one positive feature: Southern Hills Golf Course

30 Brandon T. February 21, 2013 at 9:42 am

Bill Hader is from Oklahoma. He’s funnier than Will Rogers.

31 Tom Jackson February 21, 2013 at 9:58 am

Will Rogers: ” With Congress, every time they make a joke it’s a law, and every time they make a law it’s a joke.” Doesn’t seem dated to me.

Oklahoma writers: Ralph Ellison, R.A. Lafferty, Tony Hillerman.

Composer Roy Harris is from Oklahoma.

32 anon February 21, 2013 at 10:07 am

OK Trial Lawyers:
Moman Pruiett (1872-1945), who said “Nothing breeds vice like an attempt to promote virtue by force.”

Stephen Jones, Enid, represented Timothy McVeigh

33 Fred Jones February 21, 2013 at 10:11 am


9. Movie, set in: I can think only of Rumblefish.

34 John February 21, 2013 at 11:06 am

Movie (half of) set in: True Grit

35 Daryl February 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Set in Oklahoma, Twister, Silkwood, and some of Thelma and Louise. Also, the scene in Rainman where Hoffman’s character stops in the middle of the crosswalk is in Guthrie, OK.

36 Eric S. February 21, 2013 at 10:37 am

There is an entire genre of music known as Red Dirt that more or less originates out of Stillwater.

37 Tom Davies February 21, 2013 at 10:59 pm

e.g. the Turnpike Troubadours who are very polished and listenable.

38 Neil February 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

Just saw Oklahoma! for the first time in a long time, having forgotten the plot but spent the intervening years listening to the wonderful music. Really thought it was a terrible piece of shit and had only sympathy for Jud. I guess we’re supposed to hate Jud at the start because he’s an outcast, basically, and not attractive like Curly. Then, after Laurey fucks with him and Curly tells him in the most threatening manner possible he should kill himself, he becomes violent. And then in the end they wrap it up with a nice little bow because Jud “falls on his own knife.”

39 Bill February 21, 2013 at 11:07 am

I think Jud is supposed to be a sympathetic character. The Broadway musical has a solo by Jud that was cut from the movie. It gives more depth to Jud.

40 John Boyce February 21, 2013 at 10:59 am

Music: JJ Cale!

41 George February 21, 2013 at 11:25 am

Jimmy Webb — one of the best American songwriters.

42 Gil February 21, 2013 at 11:34 am

Does Angus count as favorite economist? What is the residency requirement for academics?

43 Carl February 21, 2013 at 11:58 am

Museums: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

44 anon February 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm

The Hall of Great Western Performers is located in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in OKC.

45 Thelonious_Nick February 21, 2013 at 11:59 am

Note that Bartlesville, OK, has the only Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper ever completed. Originally meant for NYC, but when that project didn’t pan out, he recycled the design for a commission by a Bartlesville oil firm. It’s about 45 minutes north of Tulsa and well worth the trip to see it. Each floor has a different design with custom-built furniture.

46 collin February 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

What is with the Will Rogers comment? Darn straight he was funny! I personally think he is one of the treasures of the half of the century and I quote his jokes more than any other comedian other than George Carlin. The three movies he made with John Ford are some of the greatest cornball cinema put on film. I also like his view points because Oklahoma was probably the hardest hit state of the depression and Oklahoma farmers in Grapes Of Wrath the greatest example of the downside of creative destruction:

1) Oklahoma will continue to vote for prohibition as long as they can stagger to the polls.
2) (You should love!) Thank Goodness we don’t get the government that we pay for!
3) When the Okie’s moved to California, that raised the IQ of both states. (I from Cali.)
4) I am not a member of an organized political party. I’m a Democrat. Although for 2012 it would be changed to Republicans.

I recommend anybody to watch Judge Priest on the internet as it is public domain. It is not modern PC though.

47 chuck martel February 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm

During his lifetime, Will Rogers was probably the most famous person on earth and the most widely read newspaer columnist.

48 Daryl February 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I suppose Oklahoma is like just about anywhere else. It depends on what you are looking for. In no particular order, some OKC area pluses are: 1) OKC Thunder game (the mania is really quite extraordinary), 2) the food scene is improving slowly, but still a long way to go (recommended restaurants in OKC area to me include Flint, Ludivine, Cheevers, Sushi Neko, Tokyo Japanese, and Eischens in Okarche – stick with the fried chicken), 3) Chihuly glass collection at OKC Museum of art, 4) the Deep Deuce area has placards on just about every corner (in the sidewalk) detailing the history of the jazz music scene in OKC – very cool actually. Just a few of the things of interest if you know where to go.

On the credit side: the sprawl pretty much necessitates driving everywhere. If you’re into nightlife activities the options are limited although Bricktown is trying to change that.

49 chuck martel February 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm

OKC was where I came the closest ever to being dispatched by bandits but they had Louisiana plates on their maroon Chevy pickup so I can’t hold it against the Sooner State. Besides the Gilcrease Museum northwest of Tulsa made it nearly worthwhile. Bud Wilkinson was a Minnesotan.

50 Steve-O February 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

This history of the state is from memory, so please forgive any errors:

Trail of Tears, Land Rush, Dust Bowl, Will Rogers, Woodie Guthrie, Oklahoma!, Oil Boom, Oklahoma Sooners Football, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, approximately 50% of country singers, tornadoes, strange (but possibly not unique) blue laws, Oil Bust, OKC Bombing, more tornadoes, I lived there for four years, Oil Boom.

51 Steve-O February 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Left out Jim Thorpe, among others I’m sure.

52 Fred Jones February 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm

The famed movie Oklahoma! was set in .. wait for it .. Oklahoma.

But shot elsewhere.

53 dbeach February 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Does Bob Wills count? He was born and died in Texas, but for most of his musical career he was based in Oklahoma.

54 Les Cargill February 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Bob had Cadillacs and he used them. He got around.

His main home on the radio was Cain’s Ballroom, from which KVOO broadcast his radio show.

55 quigley February 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Grew up in small town in Oklahoma, traveled to all corners of the state for sports, left when 18, and return to see family semi-annually. The comments regarding “underrated” are supported by the low expectations for the state. The state works hard to meet those expectations in many respects.

Compared to neighboring states (OK borders six), Oklahoma’s art culture is stronger than none except KS, maybe. Diversity is not appreciated, in general. Fossil fuels dominate the economy, one company in particular. Sports is very important, and the Thunder, Sooners, and Cowboys are well supported. OKC’s downtown revitalization has had an effect, but the suburban/SUV lifestyle still dominates.

56 Ringleader February 21, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Cary Grant on Oklahoma –

57 Crocodile Chuck February 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Re: jazz musicians from OK: how ’bout, Oscar Pettiford, Don Byas, Cecil McBee, Don Cherry, Chet and Jay McShann? Also, a famous OK territory big band, the Blue Devils, became later Count Basie’s Orchestra, out of Kansas City (where McShann later moved, as well).

58 Steve Sailer February 21, 2013 at 5:44 pm

“Here are images of Tulsa Art Deco.”

Tulsa Art Deco architecture is fascinating because it helps answer the question: What would new buildings have looked like during the 1930s if only their had been any new buildings? Well, due to the oil boom, there was building in Tulsa during the Depression, and the answer is: Pretty good!

59 Steve Sailer February 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Similarly, Perry Maxwell’s Southern Hills in Tulsa is one of about only 4 major American golf courses built during the Depression, so it’s important in the history of golf course architecture.

60 Brent February 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm

The number of amazing people that were born in Oklahoma but were smart enough to move the hell out of there as soon as they could is surprisingly distinguished.

Oklahomans have amazing genes that generate talented people, probably due to the vast mix of cultural inputs. Add in the fact that many who originally settled there were adventurers from all over the world, and its not too terribly surprising. By way of example, my mom was from OKC, and her side of the family includes English, Irish, Scottish, Hispanic, German, black and Native American.

But, I really don’t think that there is very much special about Oklahoma other than Oklahomans. Might try some BBQ’d bologna while you are there. 🙂

61 Brian February 21, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Whenever I think of Oklahoma I usually think of Steve Martin in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”.

62 Mike February 21, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Being born in Oklahoma City and having fond memories of visiting family there while growing up, i suppose i should think more highly of it than i do. Tulsa is nice, but unfortuately most of the state is not somewhere i would visit except to see family.

63 Mike February 21, 2013 at 11:41 pm

I always laugh when i remember the slogan on their old license plate … “Oklahoma is Ok.” Petty much spot on.

64 bill reeves February 22, 2013 at 11:19 am

True Grit was supposed to be in eastern OK. The movies were shot in the Rockies somewhere.

65 FWG February 22, 2013 at 11:22 am

Before I was born, my parents and siblings lived in Oklahoma for a couple years during the late 70s/early 80s. They said many folks there were “different,” but overall they had a decent experience in Norman. Coming from Wisconsin, it was a little odd for them to see armadillos and tarantulas.

66 ns February 22, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Can I safely walk around in OK with my same sex partner without getting harassed? Would I be willing to spend money to find out? No.

Underrated, whatever. The weather sucks, high culture is non-existent, and the values are materialistic, jingoistic, and intolerant.

67 Jay February 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm

So, you haven’t been here, then?

68 bw February 23, 2013 at 1:23 am

Additional notable pop music performers: Flaming Lips

69 Ben February 23, 2013 at 10:11 am

Artists: Edgar heap of birds, Leon Polk Smith, Lee Mullican, Amy Blakemore, Larry Clark, Joe Goode, Jeremy Blake, David Salle, Trenton Doyle Hancock,

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