Tornadoes, Cowboys, The Bible Belt, & Barons

As we embrace the summer heat and wind that blows like a firehose of molten lava, we Oklahomans long for the winter months where the air is cold and dry. We look forward to football season with the gusto of a 16 year old getting their drivers license, and we proudly display the crimson and cream or orange and black (in my case, an Okie-Buckeye, I outdo them both in scarlet and grey. wink. wink.). However, there has always been a small but passionate group of Okies that yearn for things greater than college football. We indeed are smart, as we turn our gaze towards the rink. A frozen indoor tundra full of men eager to “light the lamp” and lose some teeth in the process. Yes, of course, I’m talking about hockey. And, yes, I’m talking about Oklahoma hockey.

As the OKC Blazers of the Central Hockey League closed their doors, the promise of a “better brand of hockey” was on the sports horizon. When the news of the A coming to town broke, we all shouted ‘Drop That Puck!’ in unison, and when we dug deeper and learned that the team would farm for the Edmonton Oilers we all secretly wanted to erect flaming oil derricks in our living rooms. The hockey gods had smiled upon us and we were ready for the history of great hockey to continue in OKC, and for that history to now be connected to the iconic Oilers organization.

Recently, the great folks at ‘Copper & Blue’ posted an excellent article wondering what can be expected from the non-hockey market of OKC, “Mick for Mayor” interview and all! Rest assured hockey youngsters playing in the OKC metro area, there is much more to Oklahoma City than tornadoes, cowboys, and the Bible belt (although those things will NEVER go away). Here are just a few things you will soon find out and grow to admire about your NEW city.

Get Your Eat On…Steak Is Our Friend
Not too far from the downtown OKC Cox Center, formerly know as the Myriad or Incomparable Myriad, lies the smelliest part of our town. A smell that while normally would curl your toes will soon have you salivating? Why? The stockyards my friend, the stockyards. Nestled directly in front of thousands of cattle and cowpokes lies one of the best steak eateries in the south, Cattleman’s. I just slobbered on my MacBook as I wrote that. And trust me when I say this, you WILL NEVER LOOK AT A COW THE SAME WAY AGAIN. You’ll look at at his back and you’ll get giddy about a t-bone. You’ll see the hip and begin dreaming about side dishes to accompany your filet mignon. Trust me, it will happen. Steak is our friend.

Ya’ll Warsh Yer Hands. Ifinyadont…
We all try to hide it. We all try to deny it. We all don’t realize we do it. No matter which way you slice it, Oklahomans have strange sayings. It’s kind of like that old Abercrombie sweater you bought for 90% off at the beginning of summer…you’re proud and embarrassed by it all at the same time.  We like to compare things to animals, “duck on a june bug”, “dog’s hind leg”and my favorite, “poor as Job’s turkey”. We just can’t help it. With all this wide open space we just love relating things to our four-legged and sometimes two-legged friends. When you step off the plane at Will Rogers, trade in your Canadian “Eh” for a good ole’ “Howdy”.

Those Country Songs Were Sooooo Right (Kinda)
Ugh, here comes the portion of the blog post where I talk about how cool country music can be. About how Garth Brooks’ song “The Dance” meant so much to me when I was a kid. Lame, right? I agree. Country music, much like eating roasted duck, is an acquired taste. Cringe-inducing twang, silly thematic elements, and too many mentions of “hick” to count all add up to a somewhat dreadful musical ear-plosion. I’ve somewhat mellowed as the years go by and I’ve kind of begun to enjoy a country and western tune now and then. However there is no denying that country music embraces kindness and comradery like no other genre. Oklahomans band together during hard times (tornadoes, floods, ice storms, bombings), and always support community. OKC Barons fans WILL BE LOYAL TO THEIR TEAM, they WILL SUPPORT THE PLAYERS, and they WILL DESPISE YOU if you don’t love them back. Plain and simple. The great Woody Guthrie put it best when he wrote “All Work Together”, “I can paint my fence. Mow my lawn. But if we all work together, well it shouldn’t take long”.

We’ve Come A Long Way Baby
There was a time, not too long ago, that OKCers avoided downtown like it was a pair of stone-washed jeans. Old publishing companies, random worn out office spaces, some kind of strange botanical garden, the list goes on. The only trip sports fans took downtown was the occasional bull riding event and of course for the OKC Blazers. Now you can catch the Redhawks at the Bricktown Ballpark, see the Thunder battle at the For Center, catch a great show at local theaters, eat some incredible food, hear some great music, and live in apartments all in the Bricktown area. It’s a work in progress. Still small, but what a difference 10+ years makes. And the Bricktown area isn’t the only place surging, many of the surrounding areas have incredible housing options that range from affordable to Ilya Kovalchuk (too soon hockey fans?).

What’s Good For The Kevin Is Good For The Colin
That’s hilarious, the NBA in Oklahoma City. You’re kidding. Are the players going to live in teepee’s and ride horses to the games? No way you’ll ever get guys to stay here. As the Beatles once said, “ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra”. Life went on and brought the painfully dreadful Supersonics to town and a Thunderous team was born. I know, I know, it’s still early to judge this Thunder team, but after Durantula finished his entry contract he goes out and signs a nice contract TO STAY IN OKC. Surely all those zeroes played a part in that decision, but don’t think he couldn’t make more elsewhere (just not in Miami). Big time players and small time players alike can, have and will make it in OKC. Fan support is a huge part of that. Corporate sponsorship as well. So, Colin McDonald, I’ll see you at the Disney on Ice come September because you’ll be fine in OKC.

In the end, I challenge all current and future OKC Barons/Edmonton Oilers players that head down south to the great state of Oklahoma to treat your visit as if you were Dr. Livingstone (relation? why, yes!) traveling the Nile River. Have an open mind, enjoy the moment, and you’ll want to come back for more. BONUS: We don’t have giant man-eating bugs to deal with as did Dr. Livingstone. At least not during the winter months 🙂