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catastrophe86
12-11-2011, 11:33 PM
The main character in my latest project is a native New Yorker who goes to a fictional small town in Texas for the summer. The problem is that I've never been to Texas, and I've only been in New York for a long weekend, so I'm slightly ill equipped to write my characters (apparently, I don't like making things easy for myself). I'd love to get some thoughts from actual Texans and New Yorkers on what it's like to be from and live in these places. I'm looking for anything and everything that might help me with portraying my characters accurately, so post whatever you feel that I should know, but here are a few questions to get you started:

1. What is the most annoying misrepresentation of Texans/New Yorkers that you see in popular culture?
2. What stereotypes do you feel are most accurate?
3. What's high school like in the respective places? Feel free to include things that might seem obvious to you, as I am not an American myself.
4. What are some common slang expressions that you use? Are there some that are age specific?
5. Are there any phrases that you wouldn't use?
6. What sorts of food are typical?
7. What would teenagers do at weekends? How about twenty somethings?
8. Who do you call by their first name and who do you use their titles for?
9. How important is religion in the life of the average person?
10. Like I said, I'm looking for anything end everything that can help me along, so... anything else you feel I should know?

Maryn
12-12-2011, 12:25 AM
I take it that by "New York" you actually mean Manhattan?

1. What is the most annoying misrepresentation of Texans/New Yorkers that you see in popular culture?
So many! Since I live in NY state, I'll concentrate on Texas (where I lived in the past). That a Texas accent makes you uneducated or lacking sophisticated tastes, that's a biggie. That you're loud, big-talking, and full of yourself. That you wear boots all the time, or routinely have on western-style clothing. That you know how to ride a horse.

2. What stereotypes do you feel are most accurate?
Even though I was a Yankee transplant, I did indeed pick up "y'all" and add it to my non-accented speech, which took years to overcome. It's quite the handy word.

3. What's high school like in the respective places? Feel free to include things that might seem obvious to you, as I am not an American myself.
I was an adult in Texas, so can't help you there.

4. What are some common slang expressions that you use? Are there some that are age specific?
5. Are there any phrases that you wouldn't use?
6. What sorts of food are typical?
7. What would teenagers do at weekends? How about twenty somethings?
These four questions are about teens, and since I was an adult, I'll leave them for others.

8. Who do you call by their first name and who do you use their titles for?
I was very aware that Texas kids are taught to use titles, plus ma'am and sir more than other kids I knew, as a sign of respect. I was Mrs. XXX there automatically.

9. How important is religion in the life of the average person?
Very. People ask you where you go to church without thinking it invasive. Many of our friends and neighbors attended three times a week: Sunday morning and evening, and Wednesday night, plus perhaps a church-related activity in addition to the worship services.

10. Like I said, I'm looking for anything end everything that can help me along, so... anything else you feel I should know?
Texans have a sense of us-against-everyone-else when it comes to things Texan.

You see people from many walks of life enjoying the same music or activity, all accepting of one another. Farmers and stoners and urban people and punks and bikers, all at the same show, and no fights? Wow. That doesn't happen here.

We spent time in Manhattan last March and I was surprised at how correct are the stereotypes about the way women dress and groom. The adult woman is quite slim--someone with an average build would be considered overweight--and has visible scorn for the woman who is not. Clothing stores may not carry anything larger than a 10 or 12, even though the average American wears a 14 or 16.

Nearly every woman wore some kind of black leggings and high-heeled black boots. It was more important to look good than to be comfortable in a city with a lot of walking.

Like residents of any city, Manhattanites avoid eye contact on the street. It's one way to have some privacy. It you look people in the face, you pronounce yourself an outsider--and some people get annoyed or even angry.

You hear a great many languages as you go about your business. It's harder to eavesdrop than I like.

People really do sell stuff on the street, and bolt when the cops come. They also sell goods which are probably knock-offs (fake brand-name items) at subway entrances.

The prices are crazy-high for any restaurant where you sit down. Lunch at Applebees, no alcohol, cost $50 for two.

Maryn, hoping this helps a bit and waiting for the local residents to arrive

toogrey2
12-12-2011, 04:23 AM
I live in a rural area in Texas and have a daughter whose a junior in high school and a daugther who is a senior in college.

Texans are pretty friendly, we talk to strangers, relate our live stories to waitresses and sell clerks. when we are driving we wave to passing cars.
be prepared when you ask directions, we tell distance in time not miles so from my house to Dallas is an hour and a half.
we are defensive about our state.
where i live everyone has animals: dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, cows and horses. We have a county fair during the summer where the kids show the animals they raise. most of our kids are in 4-H or FFA. most have handled a gun by age 5. and have driven a tractor by 7. lot of kids make money during the summer by working hay meadows or picking peaches.
on the weekends the kids may go to pasture parties: pickups, music and beer. or they go shoot'n s***: coons, wild hogs, armadillos, possums, skunks
on wednesdays, fridays and saturdays the cowboy churches puts on ropings. rodeoing, hunting and fishing.
we eat a lot of mexican food.
kids will sometime do the drag if they are bored- basically it means they gather in thier trucks or cars and drive through town a few times then gather at the Dairy Queen, Sonic or Jack'n'the'Box.

hope this helps.

Maryn
12-12-2011, 05:13 AM
Ooh, Sonic. I'd forgotten about that. Mail me a jalapeno burger?

That people are open and friendly is a huge contrast between Texas and urban New York. A character moving from one to the other is going to have some adapting to do.

I also forgot to mention barbecue. In Texas, it's beef, slow-cooked until it's incredibly tender, with a spicy tomato-based sauced glazing it. To die for! People say, "Let's go for barbecue" in the way people elsewhere might say, "Let's get some burgers."

Maryn, homesick (even though it was home a long time ago)

toogrey2
12-12-2011, 05:43 AM
Ooh, forgot barbeque, and nachos.
if its during the summer be prepared for 100 degree weather. 2011 we had 79 days of over 100. if i remember correctly Austin got as high as 113
3.5 million acres were destroyed by wildfires.

blackrose602
12-12-2011, 07:54 AM
One thing to keep in mind about Texas is how big it is (the second largest state after Alaska), and with the size comes an incredible amount of diversity. I've never lived there, but I spent a couple of months traveling through the state this summer. Looking for cowboys and rodeos and dusty trails and tumbleweed? No problem. Looking for culture and art and a plethora of fine dining? You can find that too. Conservatism? That's available in spades. Liberalism? Yep, that too. Religion? Which one? Atheism? Not a problem.

I know you're writing a fictional small town, but I think you're putting the cart before the horse in your research. I'd start off by deciding basically what you want the town to be. How do you picture it in your mind? Come up with a basic description for us of what you'd like your town to be, and we might be able to suggest real towns that sort of fit that bill. Then you can research those towns, choose the bits you like, and put together the fictional town that works for your story. Just my suggestion.

AnnieColleen
12-12-2011, 07:56 AM
You might want to narrow down your location a bit. Which part of Texas? Summer on the Gulf Coast means hurricane preparedness and evacuation routes, whereas in San Antonio we might be hoping for a well-placed hurricane to bring in some rain. Small town near a big city or a small town in the middle of nowhere (though they can look awfully similar)? [edit: what blackrose said - posted while I was typing. :) ]

Your New Yorker will probably notice distances, open space, how big the horizon/sky looks. Most travel is by car; not a lot of public transportation here.

WriteKnight
12-12-2011, 09:39 AM
Texas slang :

"Y'all" - The contraction for the plural 'You' in the form of 'You ALL' - no one says "You ALL".

"Fixin to..." - About to. "We're fixin to go to lunch, y'all wanna come along?"

"Put it up." - Put something away.

You can pretty much count on the 'g's' being dropped from all endins.

Depending on the part of the state - A soft drink is a "Soda" or a "Coke" - but not necessarily Coca-Cola. "Pop" is right out. And often as not you'll drink a Dr. Pepper anyway.

Real Texans get their burgers at the Dairy Queen. Lots of mustard, thank you. The Dairy Queen would likely be the High School hangout. OR the Sonic - but not every town has a Sonic.

Barbecue is a religion. Followed closely by the church of Chicken Fried Steak. After Barbecue and Chicken Fried Steak - Texan's take their Tex-Mex seriously. Don't have to be Mes'cin either. EVERYBODY loves chips and salsa.

High School in Texas is all about "The Game" - and that's football. Small town football especially. It drives the social life and pride of the town.

Stereotypes that are wrong; Everyone wears cowboy wear, drives a cadillac, owns an oil well or rides horses.

Texas is BIG. Bigger than France. There is as much diversity between East Texas, West Texas, the Gulf Coast and the Panhandle as there is between the various provinces of France. Almost as much as the cultural differences and accents of say - The UK.

A Texas accent, is not a 'southern accent' - in fact there are several Texas' accents.

Texas has several very large cities in it - including the fourth largest city in the US - Houston. Very cosmopolitan. Very diverse.

While it's common to think of Texas as ultra-conservative - that's not strictly true. Plenty of liberal bastions in the state.

Teenage activity on a weekend would depend on the location of the small town. Near the coast - they might go surfing, hang out on a beach or go fishing. (When not at the football game) If it's a small land locked town near a big city - they might go into the city for whatever they are interested in - concerts, dancing, clubbing, sports, art, museums - whatever. Living 'close to ' the city means within an hours drive - so figure sixty miles from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio or Austin is no problem for 'going into town'. If it's a small 'country' town - likely as not they might party in a pasture. Somebody has access to a huge open pasture somewhere out in the 'country'. Everybody meets in the vehicles, usually pick up trucks - and have a 'party'. Usually a keg of beer, or at least an ice chest full.

Teenagers and 'twenty something's - will do what they do anywhere else. The difference in Texas is that they'll likely have to drive farther to do it. There is very little mass transit in the state.

EVERYONE learns to drive. Getting your license and a car is a right of passage.

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I grew up saying "Yes m'am, No m'am and Yes Sir." Not so much these days, but it still happens more than in other parts of the country. Parents of friends are usually "Mr. Smith, Mrs. Johnson" - rarely first names on parents. You call your friends by their first names - usually. Sometimes you might call a buddy by their last name. I've found this to happen more in a 'team' situation. "Get the ball, Ramirez!"

The 'cowboy' or 'country' affectation IS real. It's a lifestyle choice like going 'goth' or 'prep' or 'surfer'. So a teen might decide they're 'country' - listen to country music, go to rodeos, maybe even take up riding or roping - not uncommon. But they also might be 'goth' or 'thrash metal' and take up that lifestyle. Like teens anywhere - they want to be 'individuals' the same as everyone else.

As other's have said - decide the nature of your town. WHERE is it? What's the closest big city? What keeps the TOWN ALIVE? Is their tourism? Oil/Gas? Industry? A college town? Military base? - These things color the atmosphere of the town.

A small rural town in Texas, MIGHT be 'dry' - meaning no alcohol is sold in the town. This means a trip into the next county or town to buy it. That too, is a part of the 'twenty something' lifestyle. A dry town, is likely a very religious town. Again, depending on WHERE in Texas - it could be a Southern Baptist town - Or a Roman Catholic town, close to the border.

Depending on the school system - 'religion' might be prominent in the school - OR it might be a 'problem'. This could be a focal point for a story. The State School board has become MUCH more conservative in the last decade - to the point of choosing textbooks that push the boundaries of teaching 'intelligent design'.

I live in Northern California now - but I go back to Texas often - I still have family there.

Williebee
12-12-2011, 10:27 AM
There's a lot of good info here. Although the fact that the Knight chose Dairy Queen over Whataburger saddens me. :). Man I miss Whataburger.

Born and raised (off and on) in a small city in West Texas, btw.

BlackRose makes a good suggestion. Decide what you need the town or towns need to support. We'll give you the towns. You need bitter cold and a snowy mountain pass? We got that. Need a beach with surfable waves two days later? Yep.

And, it is worth mentioning that Texans would think it no big deal to make that drive.

We'd "drive the drag" on a Friday night ( mentioned above). But think nothing of driving a distance equal to a run from New York to Chicago to eat barbecue (that would be beef brisquit, btw) or go fishing. That oil industry culture is deeply ingrained in us. But I could also, still, take you places where you could walk for days and not see another soul.

Good luck with your story! Holler if we can help.

Scribe4264
12-12-2011, 10:40 AM
Based on 6 years living in Texas, you may have a small rural town but depending on WHERE in Texas you are there will be a difference. Andrews, TX is a small rural town as is Mineola, TX. But in Andrews most kids grew up around the oil industry, dry hot summers and flat plains with very few trees to be found outside city limits in West Texas. Mineola? Surrounded by thick woods, humid and hot summers, rivers and lakes everywhere and not a whole lot of oil production to be found. It's almost as if they were located in two vastly different states.

catastrophe86
12-12-2011, 04:17 PM
I haven't done much thinking regarding the specific setting, because the focus of the story is not on the clash between urban and rural, but one of the important characters owns a ranch, if that helps you give me more specific information on possible settings. I was thinking perhaps cattle, but I haven't done any research yet, so it's not set in stone.

This leads me to a few other questions though. I assume the workers at the ranch have their own horses, but would they be stabled at the ranch? Are the workers likely to live on the ranch themselves? The ranch would be on the bigger side. Also, would the ranch raise its own horses or would they rely on outside breeders?

toogrey2
12-12-2011, 05:59 PM
Depends on size of the ranch but yea large ranches provide housing for foreman and small homes or trailer houses for ranch hands. Hands that have been there awhile probably have their own horses and tack and stable them in a common barn. Transient workers- no. Most ranches uses trucks and four wheelers.
Cattle industry down somewhat do to drought.
Goat and sheep farms are big in Texas as well as exotic game ranches.
In someplaces the animals are watered from wells using a windmill or pump. In others places, ponds are dug but we call these tanks.
Square bales are rarely used except for barn animal, most ranches use round bales. They have to be put out with a tractor or truck.

Lil
12-12-2011, 06:59 PM
As a native New Yorker, I'd like to point out that it is an incredibly diverse city in terms of race, ethnicity, class — anything you care to name. On the subway you will see Wall Street bankers squashed up against cleaning ladies. (And yes, Wall Street bankers do take the subway from time to time. It's the fastest way to get around.)Anyplace else I have ever been, anywhere in the world, one of the first things that always strikes me is the homogeneity of the local population.

In New York people walk. They walk quickly, but they walk.

One of the things that has often amused me about books set in New York City is the way characters drive all the time and never have a problem finding a parking space. Most New Yorkers do not own a car, especially if they live in Manhattan, and if they do own a car, it spends most of its time in a garage and is only used to get out of town. If you park on the street, how can you cope with alternate side of the street parking while you are at work? (Alternate side of the street parking means that there is no parking on one side of the street for specific hours like 11 am to 2 pm usually two days a week.) That traffic is people who don't live in the city driving in for work, etc.

GeorgeK
12-12-2011, 07:27 PM
I'm not sure that I'm allowed to respond since the deputy requested that I, "never return to the free state of Texas." He emphasized, "Free."

The thing that irked me the most was an apparent law that if somebody tailgates you, that means that you have to drive on the berm until they pass.

Debbie V
12-12-2011, 08:46 PM
Texas slang :

"Y'all" - The contraction for the plural 'You' in the form of 'You ALL' - no one says "You ALL".

"Fixin to..." - About to. "We're fixin to go to lunch, y'all wanna come along?"

"Put it up." - Put something away.

I'm from the New York area and have heard all of these regularly, mostly from folks of color with a southern family history.

In Manhattan everything is height, but New Yorkers don't look up unless they need to check the weather directly overhead, a rare thing. It sets someone off as a tourist.

There was an article in a Smithsonian recently that might be a good reference. An author writes about his home town in each issue. Here's the link. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/mytown-newyork.html

Escape Artist
12-12-2011, 09:33 PM
The main character in my latest project is a native New Yorker who goes to a fictional small town in Texas for the summer. The problem is that I've never been to Texas, and I've only been in New York for a long weekend, so I'm slightly ill equipped to write my characters (apparently, I don't like making things easy for myself). I'd love to get some thoughts from actual Texans and New Yorkers on what it's like to be from and live in these places. I'm looking for anything and everything that might help me with portraying my characters accurately, so post whatever you feel that I should know, but here are a few questions to get you started:

1. What is the most annoying misrepresentation of Texans/New Yorkers that you see in popular culture?
2. What stereotypes do you feel are most accurate?
3. What's high school like in the respective places? Feel free to include things that might seem obvious to you, as I am not an American myself.
4. What are some common slang expressions that you use? Are there some that are age specific?
5. Are there any phrases that you wouldn't use?
6. What sorts of food are typical?
7. What would teenagers do at weekends? How about twenty somethings?
8. Who do you call by their first name and who do you use their titles for?
9. How important is religion in the life of the average person?
10. Like I said, I'm looking for anything end everything that can help me along, so... anything else you feel I should know?

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I'm a Texan! Finally something I'm a sort of "expert" in!

1. Not everyone in Texas has a southern drawl, and for the love of God, people, not everyone in Texas is a cowgirl or cowboy! I get so sick of that mess. Me and my husband were talking about the stereotypification (look, I made a new word!) of Texans just the other day. Another thing is that not all Texan girls have that famous big Texas hair. I live around the "heart" of Texas, and it's pretty diverse, far as I can tell. At least, much more diverse than TV would have you believe.

2. Stereotypes that are accurate? Well, I don't know a single Texan who doesn't use "y'all" in their vocabulary. Also, we tend to say that we're "fixin' to" do something - that we're about to do it, in other words. Has nothing to do with repairs.

3. My high school experience was miserable. I'll not comment there as I probably have little to add except a big pity-party.

4. Guess I jumped the gun on number two. Anyway, in addition to the "y'all" and "fixin' to" phrases, I'd say "ain't" is pretty common but that may be everywhere and not exclusive to Texas.

5. I wouldn't use any phrase that made me sound like a hick. Not sure what those would be as I can't think of any at the moment...

6. All kinds. There's not just tons of stuff to do around where I live, so eating out is an event unto itself. Tex-Mex is popular as are steak houses. I'd say the majority of our restaurants around here fall under those categories, but we do have Chinese restaurants (at least three I can think of in our immediate area), pizza chains, Italian restaurants, Japanese, you name it. Oh yeah - can't forget the barbecue. Most Texans love barbecue and cooking on the grill in general.

7. A favorite pastime among teens (at least when I was in school which was back in the 90's and early 00's) was "riding around". Basically you drive around to your friends' houses, see what they're doing and take a drive just for the hell of it.

8. Honestly, I call most everyone by their first names, but it sort of depends on the person. I think there is a stereotype that Southerners are always "Yes ma'am" and "No sir" and all that stuff but at least for my generation, I don't hear those phrases used, and a lot of people I'd consider my elders don't want to be called "ma'am" because it makes them feel old.

9. This is just my observation, but I think most Texans at least believe in God. Whether they attend church regularly or not is a different story, but from my experience, most have a basic belief in Him. At least where I live. Big cities may be different. As far as denominations, there are LOTS of Baptist churches in my area. Lots of them. There are Catholic churches and non-denomination churches, sure, but the majority of churches around here are Baptist.

10. Nothing else that I can think of right now. Just don't feel like you have to stay within the box of "Everyone in Texas is a cowpoke". Texas is about much more than ranching and cattle and all those things, though if you have questions about that stuff, my dad does own cows and horses and is also pretty big on hunting which is popular among a lot of men around here.

Funny thing, I actually know a guy who lived in New York and came here later in life. I thought of him when I read your post. It's a small world... :) Good luck with your story!

ironmikezero
12-12-2011, 11:10 PM
One aspect about Texas that can't be over emphasized is that personal motor vehicles are an intrinsic part of the culture as opposed to the pervasive reliance upon the (rather efficient) public transportation system of New York City.

As mentioned, all Texans drive, and many own multiple vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, 4-wheelers, etc.). Distance is commonly referred to in terms of driving time. Speed limits can be generous; 80mph is common on some stretches of highway in West Texas - of course, you'll get passed by most traffic commonly running 10-20% faster. On country roads it's common courtesy to pull to the right (on the shoulder) to let a faster vehicle pass - a friendly wave usually follows.

Rural drivers are generally polite and may wave to one another. Road rage is exceptionally rare - maybe because a lot of folks are typically armed and everyone expects that to be the case. Most Texans are more than a little familiar with firearms - that too is part of the culture.

Lenny Jennison
02-04-2012, 07:01 AM
Lol, this is almost my exact story. though i am from boston, i moved to texas my senior year. I am not sure if anyone still needs this, but i will answer it anyway.


The main character in my latest project is a native New Yorker who goes to a fictional small town in Texas for the summer. The problem is that I've never been to Texas, and I've only been in New York for a long weekend, so I'm slightly ill equipped to write my characters (apparently, I don't like making things easy for myself). I'd love to get some thoughts from actual Texans and New Yorkers on what it's like to be from and live in these places. I'm looking for anything and everything that might help me with portraying my characters accurately, so post whatever you feel that I should know, but here are a few questions to get you started:

1. What is the most annoying misrepresentation of Texans/New Yorkers that you see in popular culture?

texans are inbred and dumb. New yorkers are rude, wait..that one has some merit. texans are seen as "slow" because of their slow talk and kindness towards others. This is also the exact opposite for northerners. They speak quickly and most people think they are smarter than a southerner. Not always true in either account.
2. What stereotypes do you feel are most accurate?
3. What's high school like in the respective places? Feel free to include things that might seem obvious to you, as I am not an American myself.

This one was an eye opener for me. When i lived in the north i had a brand new car- a saturn. this was the first year they came out. I thought i was the king of the school! Then i moved here and every kid had a better car then i had. another difference was the football mentality. there is a reason why there are so many movies about this sport in texas. This is almost a religion, even here in the bible belt! there are two things you never bad talk, God and football in texas. Texas high school football games get as large as college games in certain areas.
4. What are some common slang expressions that you use? Are there some that are age specific?

when i was in mass we said "wicked" with everything. here in texas, they have their word "fixin ta". i used to laugh at them when they said it because i would point out there was nothing broken. This was an easier way of saying "getting ready to". example: john was findna go shootin! as i demonstrated there are various ways to spell it, one way to use it.

5. Are there any phrases that you wouldn't use?
6. What sorts of food are typical?
7. What would teenagers do at weekends? How about twenty somethings?

here is something that still drives me crazy around here in texas: friday and saturday night, the high school kids will go to a gas station (usually near a highway) and hang out. from there they spread word of parties etc that are planned that night.

8. Who do you call by their first name and who do you use their titles for?

When i got here, i thought showing respect to an older person was by honestly answering their questions and showing interest in the conversation. I remember i was doing this with a coach as i talked about wanting to join his football team. At one point in the conversation, he stopped me and said that in this town, we used sir or maam when talking to an adult. I said ok, and carried on the conversation. i completely mussed that he was suggesting that i start using the appropriate wording. i only got the message when my buddy told me after i left the office.

9. How important is religion in the life of the average person?

Up north there were people who were and were not religious. that was an option for each person. here in the south (at least with my experience), the only choice you had was which church you attended. people wouldn't harass you to go, they just wanted to know that you believed.

10. Like I said, I'm looking for anything end everything that can help me along, so... anything else you feel I should know?

Jersey Chick
02-04-2012, 07:23 PM
My dad's from El Paso and one summer I went out there with him and I remember being shocked (shocked) that it was just as hot and sticky there as it was in NJ in July. WTF? It's Texas - it's supposed to be hot and dry, right? Nope. Not in El Paso. :)

Also, I found people talked much slower out there. And most of them couldn't understand me because I talked too fast. I had to repeat myself a lot until I adjusted to their pace.

WriteKnight
02-04-2012, 11:19 PM
The whole pace of speech, and way of negotiating is different, for sure.

I was producing a show, and needed a dozen pair of hand crafted cavalry boots. I went to a boot shop in Houston, with another producer from New York. The New York producer stepped up and said "I need your best price on a dozen pair of Cavalry boots." - The guy turned around and started working on a pair of custom boots... ignoring the New Yorker.

My buddy looked at me. Then back at the guy. "Hey, I'm talking to you!"

He nodded as he continued to tool the leather in his hands.

I tapped my buddy on the shoulder and took his place.

"You workin on calf skin there?"

He nodded.

"Nice job. I know it's softer ... does that make it easier, or harder?"

So we started a conversation about tooling leather. This went on to types of leather. Then exotic leathers. This led to hunting, and breeding exotic animals. Which led to a discussion on game fishing.

My New York buddy was going crazy.

FINALLY, after probably twenty minutes, the guy asked me. "Cavalry boots? Don't get much call for those..."

My buddy was about to speak up, and I actuall kicked him in the shin.

We talked for another half hour about the cavalry, roping, horse work in general.

After more than an hour, we left with a deal to produce the boots faster and cheaper than my buddy had anticipated.

"That's cause NOW he's making 'em for a friend."

ladyleeona
02-05-2012, 07:36 AM
I'm a 3rd generation Texan. (Bahahaha--I never ever thought that would actually QUALIFY me for anything. win! LOL)


The main character in my latest project is a native New Yorker who goes to a fictional small town in Texas for the summer. The problem is that I've never been to Texas, and I've only been in New York for a long weekend, so I'm slightly ill equipped to write my characters (apparently, I don't like making things easy for myself). I'd love to get some thoughts from actual Texans and New Yorkers on what it's like to be from and live in these places. I'm looking for anything and everything that might help me with portraying my characters accurately, so post whatever you feel that I should know, but here are a few questions to get you started:

1. What is the most annoying misrepresentation of Texans/New Yorkers that you see in popular culture?
That we're all dumb because we talk slow. Or that we all wear ten-gallon hats and effin line dance. Yeah. With the exceptions of to a few songs (Copperhead Road by Steve Earl), nobody freaking line dances. Older people maybe, but no one under 35.
2. What stereotypes do you feel are most accurate?
We are friendly folks. We dig our football. We eat lots of barbeque. Especially in rural areas, most of us are gun owners who know how to use them.
3. What's high school like in the respective places? Feel free to include things that might seem obvious to you, as I am not an American myself.
Depends on size. I went to a small school and I know from talking to my coworkers (from huge 5A schools) that our HS experiences were COMPLETELY different. One thing universal thing is HS football. It's almost religion. Hate to say it, but that tv show Friday Night Lights was somewhat accurate. (ugh)
4. What are some common slang expressions that you use? Are there some that are age specific?
Y'all. Fixin' to. Depending on where you live (this be a big place) also influences colloquial speech. Where I grew up, people use Spanish slang and English slang in the same sentences.
5. Are there any phrases that you wouldn't use?
Ones in proper English :). LOL. Kidding. Um. For those that are active in agriculture/ranching: you never, ever, ever say 'lasso' unless you're being an idiot on purpose. We use a rope to rope things. period.
6. What sorts of food are typical?
Lots of Mexican/Tex-Mex food. Seafood on the coast.
7. What would teenagers do at weekends? How about twenty somethings?
Again, depends on if you're rural or suburban. Around my hometown...hmm. We hung out. Normal teenager stuff. Partied on weekends at the river. Did stupid things. Hung out at the local Sonic. Drove around.
8. Who do you call by their first name and who do you use their titles for?
Because of my parents, I call pretty much everyone older than me sir/ma'am. And I learned from my Vermont friend that's seen as obnoxious and rude up north. Here it's polite.
9. How important is religion in the life of the average person?
It's all over the place. In rural areas I think it's probably more central than in suburban, but I'm not positive. When you depend on the weather to survive, it can make you praying type.
10. Like I said, I'm looking for anything end everything that can help me along, so... anything else you feel I should know?
Depending on where you live, the style and crease of das cowboy hat changes. :)

ladyleeona
02-05-2012, 08:14 AM
I haven't done much thinking regarding the specific setting, because the focus of the story is not on the clash between urban and rural, but one of the important characters owns a ranch, if that helps you give me more specific information on possible settings. I was thinking perhaps cattle, but I haven't done any research yet, so it's not set in stone.

This leads me to a few other questions though. I assume the workers at the ranch have their own horses, but would they be stabled at the ranch? Are the workers likely to live on the ranch themselves? The ranch would be on the bigger side. Also, would the ranch raise its own horses or would they rely on outside breeders?

In central TX, like right smack dab in the center, we ranch. My dad's a foreman for a 15k acre commercial operation (which is middling to small in terms of size). They run about 400 head of Brangus or brangus/charolais cross cattle. Where you ranch often influences what breed of cattle you have. (And how many.) When I was much younger, lots of people ran sheep or angora goats. That pretty much went away due to a change in gov. policy. (Once the subsidy money from importing Australian/foreign sheep was relegated away from the domestic producer.) Mohair market crashed, coyote populations grew, you've got to have really good fences, and well, they're sheep/goats, so they're just four-legged pains in the ass anyway. So the shift changed from sheep/goats in the 80-90's to cattle. (This is what has happened in my lifetime, anyway.)

Typically ranching people own their own horses, but it depends entirely on the operation. I grew up on the ranch my dad ran. Another couple of cowboys and their families lived there, too. Often the job entails a house to live in, paid utilities, a calf for butcher every year, and shit take-away pay. Health insurance varies. A lot of times you don't get it because they consider you 'self employed' or 'contract labor'. Also, ranches will use day-working cowboys when they need them (around shipping time, if you're in a commercial operation). Day workers always have their own personal horse that they haul to jobs. Lots of people cowboy, but it's not the glamorous thing like in the movies.

Anyway. There were ranch-owned horses and personally owned horses. Whether or not they raise the ranch-owned horses depends. My dad's boss began dabbling in breeding horses while we lived there, but they were NEVER for actual ranch work. Most people who breed horses for a living raise performance horses--aka, horse you work in arenas, run on tracks, etc. Not animals that you go off tearing through the brush on. And unlike cattle breeds, which vary by location, with horses it's almost always a Quarter Horse.

Central Tx is very hilly, so it's not really good for farming on a commercial scale. West texas is flat and treeless, so not only can you plant large amounts of land, but you can see people coming after you from loooonngg way away :).

Lots of people I know from north tx dairy. Here where I live now there's a large population of immigrants (Dutch, mostly) who run/own dairies. But, due to pollution problems, loads of big dairies are also moving out west. (Ah, agriculture.)

Oh goodness. I'm nostalgic, if you can't tell. Hope this drivel helps some.

Aggggh, dammit. All that for a driveby-er. Must check time/date stamps before posting. /fail.

mtrenteseau
03-31-2012, 08:52 AM
Much more here from Texans than from New Yorkers.

I grew up in Philadelphia but have spent a lot of time in New York.

Most of what people know about New York who have never been there comes from television. While you have shows like "Mad Men" and shows actually from the era, like "That Girl" and "The Odd Couple," after "Friends" most shows set in New York are crime dramas. The precinct on "NYPD Blue" probably saw more murders in a season of twenty-four episodes than a real Manhattan precinct saw in a year.

I've never met a rude New Yorker. I met a rude person in New York once, but she mentioned going back to her hotel so I knew the record held.

New Yorkers want to get things done and move on. If a New Yorker is rude to you, you were either in the way and not moving, or doing something far more slowly than you really should.

Like most cities, a lot of people in New York completely ignore the cultural opportunities and never go to Broadway shows, museums, or the symphony.

KelsNotChels
04-03-2012, 12:08 AM
I'm a third generation Texas Girl... (note the caps) But I'm from Dallas, and have had a VERY suburban life.

The district where I went to school was JUST listed as the second most posh school district second only to BEVERLY HILLS HIGH!

O_o

That to say, my perspective might be different than that of the "small Texas town", but, if you want the suburban, or Dallas viewpoint, I'd be happy to chime in. :)

RichardGarfinkle
04-06-2012, 12:36 AM
The main character in my latest project is a native New Yorker who goes to a fictional small town in Texas for the summer. The problem is that I've never been to Texas, and I've only been in New York for a long weekend, so I'm slightly ill equipped to write my characters (apparently, I don't like making things easy for myself). I'd love to get some thoughts from actual Texans and New Yorkers on what it's like to be from and live in these places. I'm looking for anything and everything that might help me with portraying my characters accurately, so post whatever you feel that I should know, but here are a few questions to get you started:

1. What is the most annoying misrepresentation of Texans/New Yorkers that you see in popular culture?
2. What stereotypes do you feel are most accurate?
3. What's high school like in the respective places? Feel free to include things that might seem obvious to you, as I am not an American myself.
4. What are some common slang expressions that you use? Are there some that are age specific?
5. Are there any phrases that you wouldn't use?
6. What sorts of food are typical?
7. What would teenagers do at weekends? How about twenty somethings?
8. Who do you call by their first name and who do you use their titles for?
9. How important is religion in the life of the average person?
10. Like I said, I'm looking for anything end everything that can help me along, so... anything else you feel I should know?

Native New Yorker although I now live in Chicago.

1. The "New York Accent" is actually specific to a segment of the population of Brooklyn.

2. Not sure if there are any. The city is really diverse. The closest I would say is that on average New Yorkers are brusque.

3. I went to a private Quaker High School. The student body was very diverse, the classes demanding, and the teachers very good.

4. A certain amount of Yiddish in speech, that's about it.

5. Probably, but I'd need some idea of what you're talking about.

6. New York is incredibly diverse in food. There are a few things that are typical, mostly cart food (bought and eaten outside). Large soft pretzels are common, as are hot dogs (this is from my youth). In the last couple of decades there has been a growth of variety in cart and stand food to include a lot of middle eastern cooking. New York thin crust pizza is bought by the slice in pizzerias. New York deli was strongly biased toward Jewish cooking (beef mostly with some chicken, knishes etc). Upscale delis are more diverse.

7. Teenagers have a lot of possibilities: movie theaters, arcades, parks. twenty-somethings there's no limit. Night Clubs, dancing, bars, restaurants, theaters (from Broadway to as far off off and eccentric as you want), and that's just the commonly advertised stuff. Things can get pretty weird if you know where to look (which I never did).

8.It was generational when I was a kid. I'm not sure about these days. older generations were always Mr. or Mrs. or Miss. or Ms. last name, never sir or ma'am. Contemporaries were by first name.

9. Very variable. New York has a lot of Churches, Temples, some Mosques and other holy places. The city has a lot of atheists, a lot of twice a year holy place goers (Easter and Christmas or High Holidays). It also has some of the most Orthodox Jewish populations in the world.

10. New York is very dense. The city is built upward, the blocks are small. Walking is the logical way to get around nearby. Buses, subways, cabs, and car services otherwise. Driving in the city is insane. Whenever we visit, I drive into the city and park in a garage until we leave days later. The idea that there are places where one needs to drive is really strange.

Upper class New York is one of the places fashion appears in the United States. Some people are very fashion conscious and others are aware of the fashion consciousness.

New York is called the city that never sleeps for good reason. If you wake up at 3 in the morning and you want to go out for food or entertainment you can.