Residing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area has many rewards. From culinary to cultural this region of Texas is chock full of fun and exciting places to see, a night life to die for and a rich blend of arts and entertainment. But nothing could have prepared me for the extravaganza that transpired on Tuesday afternoon, April 3rd 2012. Like they say; “Everything is big inTexas, including tornados”
I had just finished producing the Smooth Show and was in the process of producing the Mingalaba Show, a broadcast for the Burmese communities. Had my trusty Irish made Sennheiser headphones on and was in the middle of doing a monologue for the show when I heard an irritating ticking sound. I checked my gages and found no anomalies in the system as I was recording. Irritated, I pulled off my headphones only to discover someone was pounding on the front door. At first I thought it was a raid of some kind, a flashback from a less than savory youthful past. So I’m no cherry, get over it. At least I’m not a due faccia (two face) politician responsible for the death of millions of innocent people for the sake of corporate and investor interests.
Since I had nothing to hide I made my way to the entrance. As I approached the door I could hear an older Mexican America woman shouting, “El Apuro del señor, por favor! Tornado! Tornado! Apure, por favor!” In laymen’s terms, “Get your ass out of there bonehead, there is a tornado about to blow your dumb ass to Arkansas”. I opened the door to find a little old Mexican grandmother with three babies in her arms as she frantically made swirling motions with her hand while clutching her grand children. Umm, I got her drift and went back into the studio just for a second and poof, she was out of there. How considerate of her to risk her life for some stranger she does not even know. She was truly a hero in my eyes since she did not have to stick around like she did in the heat of disaster.
The story gets a little stupid because I was wearing only a longyi, a traditional clothing item men wear in Burma and other Asian countries. OK, OK, OK, so it resembles a long skirt by narrow American standards but it’s a custom I enjoy when visiting my Burmese friends who wear longyies. The ‘boys’ enjoy the freedom as well and what the hell, I was in the studio recording a Burmese show. For all the writing I do about ‘preparedness’ I was caught in a dilemma. Since the longyi is tied in the front, I had no boxers on and was barefooted I really needed to done more cloths for a host of reasons. One being I did not want to be caught buck naked dead or alive in the heart of CowtownTexas if my longyi accidentally fell off. I did not care to explain what a longyi is to astonished cattlemen either. “Umm guys, this is not a dress and quite peeking under my skirt, err longyi” Being barefooted with the possibility of lacerating my feet on broken glass was another very real concern.
Eventually Mr. FEMA Trained former emergency manager, moi, finally made my way out of the studio after a heartfelt farewell to my video and sound equipment. I did have my ‘grip’ or bug-out bag in tow as I made my way to safety. There was no hail in my neck of the woods but the rain drops were like buckets for they were gigantic. There was no visibility to speak of and I did not see a funnel cloud but I did hear a train in the distance through thunder and lightening strikes that appeared to be all around me, holay! As I approached a designated tornado shelter people were already coming out and told me that the twister was on the east side of I-35w. Fortunately I was on the west side. The sky was still dark with a funny hue and the torrential downpour continued. It was quite eerie and surreal.
When I returned to the studio I turned on the boob tube to get more information on the tornado I encountered only to discover there was another one on the ground to the west of me and it was making its way toward my location, gads. In my infinite wisdom I posted some comments on Facebook and Yahoo then made a dash for my trusty iron pony and like before, rain and lightening was doing a number. I made tracks for a clearing (Home Depot Parking Lot) so I could shoot some pictures since I was surrounded by trees and buildings at my previous location. How far beyond stupid was that eh? And I still did not get a good shot, just thick gray clouds that did not show the enormity of the situation. I did get a soda and a Snickers Bar at the QT though. It was business as usual at the lumber yard until I told an employee about the second twister to the west of us though.
All the while I could hear my Cousin Antonio’s voice telling me to ‘take pictures’. Antonio is a world class photographer and his work appears around the world including the silver screen, most recently the film ‘Holy Man, The USA vs Douglas White’, a ‘must see film’ by the way. He takes many mortally intrusive risks to photograph history in his on going career so you can imagine his zest for picture taking at all costs and maybe a taste of insanity as well. Guess it runs in the family eh. Unfortunately I did not take that special shot of the twin twisters I was surrounded by and there was a rumor a third was on the ground. Eventually meteorologists reported between 12 and 14 tornados during this swarm. The last swarm of tornados I experienced was in the middle of the night on a desolate Oklahoma highway outside of my reservation a few years back. That was another experience I will not soon forget. I was literally dodging twisters left and right since all I could see was their silhouettes during lightening flashes. The road did appear a bit breezier than normal. Doh!
They say the Creator protects babies and fools. In this instance I was the latter since I did not follow any safety precautions and could have been blown all the way to Indiana for my lackluster performance. Maybe someone should pencil in ‘journalists’ to that saying. But you just had to be there to understand where I was coming from since I was totally ill prepared and not dressed for the part. What a time to make a fashion statement. But I’m in good company since first responders and tornado chasers were out and about as well as fellow journalists including news helicopters but they did not have a longyi on. And no, I don’t have a matching handbag either for you boneheads that don’t understand Asian cultures. I do have a camera bag with the National League for Democracy flag proudly embossed on it though. For the record, my longyi was made in Burma and not in China, gawd.
But what pisses me off about this tornado story was some of the comments I got from people outside of Texas. Talk about hate mail, geeze. One person took on the persona of G*D and made light of Texans suffering from the rash of tornados. Hate baiting and alluding to prejudice and G*D’s wrath onTexas was the theme with no regard for the people who lost everything in the aftermath. For all intents and purposes G*D was with the good people of Texas because there was no deaths reported even though the tornados traveled deep into some of the most heavily populated areas in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and the state. And it just missed me.
Stories of heroism and survival abound including the tale of a grandmother who held an infant by the feet as a twister tried to suck the child from her grasp. There were people from all races helping their neighbors regardless of skin tone in the chaotic aftermath that followed. No one ever mentioned the race card for they were Texans helping fellow Texans blowing apart the ignorantly misconceived stereotype non-Texans enjoy spreading about this state. In an unrelated story the mainstream media tried to paint a picture of racial overtones during Tea Party rallies but they failed to mention that people from all races were Tea Party members here inTexas. I saw for myself as CNN tried in vein to ignore all the non whites holding Pro Tea Party Slogans on one broadcast. But that’s OK, let’s hate Texans.
Yup, let’s hate Texans and celebrate the destruction of homes and businesses of innocent hard working people from all races who suffered in the wake of these tornados. Maybe these haters should place a sign on their homes proclaiming their disdain for Texans. That way when disaster strikes their state Texan emergency workers who respond to national emergencies will not waste their time on people who hate them. Unfortunately, they would still risk their lives for you buttheads anyway, sign or no sign.Texas has thousands of emergency professionals including search & rescue, medical and fire personnel who respond to disasters across the USA and the world on a moments notice. So next time you bad mouth Texans just remember in the days to come, disaster may strike and it just might be a Texan who risks his/her life to save your stupid race baiting hate filled keister.
But for now, my prayers and heart goes out to everyone here inTexas who survived this catastrophic tornado swarm.
Your Devil’s Advocate
© 2012, Buffalohair Productions. All rights reserved.