H.G. Bissinger · 357 pages
Rating: (42.9K votes)
“I'm gonna party, see how intoxicated I can get and how many rules I can flaunt. That's my motto.”
“Athletics lasts for such a short period of time. It ends for people. But while it lasts, it creates this make-believe world where normal rules don’t apply. We build this false atmosphere. When it’s over and the harsh reality sets in, that’s the real joke we play on people. . . . Everybody wants to experience that superlative moment, and being an athlete can give you that. It’s Camelot for them. But there’s even life after it.”
“I work not only for the gathering and assimilation of knowledge, but also to teach the fact that one can be brilliant without being arrogant, that great intellectual capacity brings great responsibility, that the quest for knowledge should never supplant the joy of learning, that one with great capacities must learn to be tolerant and appreciate those with lesser or different absolutes,”
“This must not be planet earth,” Cone told his partner. “This must be hell.” But it wasn’t. It was just Odessa.”
“There were also those who had grown weary of it and the oft-repeated phrase that what made it special was the quality of its people. “Odessa has an unspeakable ability to bullshit itself,” said Warren Burnett, a loquacious, liberal-minded lawyer who after roughly thirty years had fled the place like a refugee for the coastal waters near Houston. “Nothing could be sillier than we got good people here. We got the same cross-section of assholes as anywhere.”
“If the season could ever have any salvation, if it could ever make sense again, it would have to come tonight under a flood of stars on the flatiron plains, before thousands of fans who had once anointed him the chosen son but now mostly thought of him as just another nigger.”
“She said also that they absolutely hated any assignment in which they had to interpret what they had read. If they had to think about anything, make critical judgments and deliberations, the cause was hopeless. The best they could be expected to do was regurgitate.”
“Let each of you discover where your chance for greatness lies. Seize that chance and let no power on earth deter you.”
“He saw the irresistible allure of high school sports, but he also saw an inevitable danger in adults’ living vicariously through their young. And he knew of no candle that burned out more quickly than that of the high school athlete.”
“The solution to the problem of poor performance scores had been a new system of grading that would encourage students to stay in school as well as improve their self-esteem. Beyond these important, admirable goals, it also had a more immediate purpose: it would undoubtedly reduce the school’s notoriously high failure rate, which had become an embarrassment to the school and to the school board. Under the plan, equal weight was given to class participation (which to some teachers meant simply showing up, because how on earth were you supposed to quantify participation?), homework, weekly tests, and a final exam at the end of every six-week period. A student could flunk every weekly test as well as the final exam and still pass a course for that period.”
“Instead of understanding that they were the beneficiaries of history, they began to believe that they were the creators of it.”
“He firmly believed that football, like other sports, used blacks, exploited them and then spit them out once their talents as running backs or linebackers or wide receivers had been fully exhausted. For a few lucky ones, that moment might not come until they were established in the pros. For others, it might come at the end of college. For most, it would all end in high school.”
“It was hard not to think that wherever he wound up, it was not going to be good. He drank. He drugged. He regarded life with devilish disdain. I could never see him turning it around. Which is why I have also learned that the worst predictor of future behavior is high school behavior.”
“The first murder in Odessa occurred late in the nineteenth century when a cowboy rode into a water-drilling camp one afternoon and demanded something to eat from the cook. The cook, described as a “chinaman,” refused, so the cowboy promptly shot him. He was taken to San Angelo and put on trial, but the judge freed him on the grounds that there were no laws on the books making it illegal to kill a Chinaman.”
“Odessa eked out a living from the livestock trade, all dreams of Utopia gone forever when the town’s first sheriff, Elias Dawson, decided that the ban on alcohol constituted cruel and unusual punishment and became the proprietor, along with his brother, of the town’s first saloon.”
“Nothing about living in Odessa was easy. Finding a scrubby tree that could barely serve as a Christmas tree took two days. Even dealings with cattle rustlers and horse thieves had to be compromised; they were shot instead of hanged because there weren’t any trees tall enough from which to let them swing.”
“J. D. Cone, when he came here from Oklahoma in 1948 to become a family practitioner, went on house calls with a thirty-eight pistol stuck into his belt after the sheriff told him it was always a good idea to be armed in case someone got a little ornery or disagreed with the diagnosis.”
“In 1982, the thirty-seven murders that took place inside Ector County gave Odessa the distinction of having the highest murder rate in the country. Most agreed that was a pretty high number, but mention of gun control was as popular as a suggestion to change the Ten Commandments. A year later, Odessa made national news again when someone made the fateful mistake of accusing an escaped convict from Alabama named Leamon Ray Price of cheating in a high-stakes poker game. Price, apparently insulted by such a charge, went to the bathroom and then came out shooting with his thirty-eight. He barricaded himself behind a bookcase while the players he was trying to kill hid under the poker table. By the time Odessa police detective Jerry Smith got there the place looked like something out of the Wild West, an old-fashioned shoot-out at the La Casita apartment complex with poker chips and cards and bullet holes all over the dining room. Two men were dead and two wounded when Price made his escape. His fatal error came when he tried to break into a house across the street. The startled owner, hearing the commotion, did what he thought was only appropriate: he took out his gun and shot Price dead. It was incidents such as these that gave Odessa its legacy.”
“Molly Ivins, a columnist for the Dallas Times Herald, described Odessa as an “armpit,” which, as the Odessa American pointed out, was actually quite a few rungs up from its usual anatomical comparison with a rectum.”
“Many teachers felt that no matter how creative they were in the classroom, it wouldn’t make a difference anyway. They talked about a devastating erosion in standards, how the students of today bore no resemblance to the students of even ten or fifteen years ago, how their preoccupations were with anything but school. It was hard for teachers not to feel depressed by the lack of rudimentary knowledge, like in the history class in which students were asked to name the president after John F. Kennedy. Several students meekly raised their hands and proffered the name of Harry Truman. None gave the correct answer of Lyndon Johnson, who also happened to have been a native Texan. In 1975, the average SAT score on the combined math and verbal sections at Permian was 963. For the senior class of 1988–89, the average combined SAT score was 85 points lower, 878. During the seventies, it had been normal for Permian to have seven seniors qualify as National Merit semi-finalists. In the 1988–89 school year the number dropped to one, which the superintendent of schools, Hugh Hayes, acknowledged was inexcusable for a school the size of Permian with a student body that was rooted in the middle class. (A year later, with the help of $15,000 in consultant’s fees to identify those who might pass the required test, the number went up to five.)”
“We don’t have a large university that has thirty or forty thousand students in it. We don’t have the art museum that some communities have and are world-renowned. When somebody talks about West Texas, they talk about football.”
“But “love” is the most empty and overused word in the English language after “brilliant.”
“Permian had established itself as perhaps the most successful football dynasty in the country—pro, college, or high school. Few brands of sport were more competitive than Class AAAAA Texas high school football, the division for the biggest schools in the state.”
“you’ll be all right,” said Hanson. “As long as you don’t rock the boat, then they think”
“the solemn ritual that was attached to almost everything, made them seem like boys going off to fight a war for the benefit of someone else, unwitting sacrifices to a strange and powerful god. In”
“saw no great social motive in the desegregation effort. It had nothing to do with true assimilation of the races and everything to do with percentages—how many whites, how many blacks, how many browns—little numbers that could be written down and submitted to a judge as proof that there was no longer any racism. “There’s no integration,” said Moore. “There is desegregation.”
“He and his teammates were the Princes of the City, only they were high school kids instead of New York City narcotics detectives,”
“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
“The first murder in Odessa occurred late in the nineteenth century when a cowboy rode into a water-drilling camp one afternoon and demanded something to eat from the cook. The cook, described as a “chinaman,” refused, so the cowboy promptly shot him. He was taken to San Angelo and put on trial, but the judge freed him on the grounds that there were no laws on the books making it illegal to kill a Chinaman. For”
“What do Dukakis and panty hose have in common? They both irritate Bush. What’s twelve inches long and hangs in front of an asshole? Dukakis’s necktie.”
“L'amore è l'unica costante in questo difficile mondo razionale, l'amore e la sua metà oscura, l'odio.”
“It would be nice to avoid the world, to leave it and all its threats and unhappiness. Not to die or anything like that, but to find a place of solitude and solace.”
“I pictured Becs and myself together, squabbling, but always over little things, while I rotted away at the core from love of Ferris.
It was hopeless.
‘Here.’ I laid my hands on the table, palms up, and jerked my head at them, ‘put yours on top.’
Ferris did not move.
‘Please,’ I said.
He laid his cold hands on mine and I curled my fingers, folding his within them.
‘Now,’ I said, ‘I’ve neither accepted nor refused. Speak it out plainly, tell me and I’ll do it.’
He cried, ‘Don’t put it onto me! Choose for yourself.’
‘This is choosing. Tell Aunt I will do whatever you’ll have me do, and that’s my answer.’ I kept hold of his fingers. We stayed there silent and motionless for some time, while the candles burnt down.
At last he said quietly, ‘It is a lot to give up.’
‘Well. My history is bad enough without bigamy,’ I replied, at which he smiled but made no reply. The candles were half burnt. I took one and rose.
“Go ahead," he said. "I need the practice.”
“-Tu teoría sería interesante si no fuera por un pequeño detalle.
-Que no estaba escuchando”
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