Today on Alphabet City: When Jon Paul visits Lubbock, he discovers Love Is All Around.
One thing I’ve learned as a writer-preneur is never turn down a book signing opportunity. Granted, not all of them will pan out. But for every event with guests “who’ve made a decision to stop reading,” there will be the unexpected gem. So when the offer came up to travel to Lubbock, TX where Colleen, one of my biggest blog fans resides, I knew better than to turn up my nose. The town turned out to charm me with some surprising connections in unexpected places.
In my mind, I pictured Lubbock like the dusty and depressing West Texas town of Midland—complete with rolling tumbleweeds and conservative neo-cons. But when my plane glided over green farm pastures I realized tumbleweeds were going to be in short supply. And then the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal expressed interest in a feature story about me—maybe this place was a little more open-minded than imagined.
And the surprises continued on the ground. My lodgings at the relatively new Overton Hotel had the hipness factor of a Westin with just the right comfortable Texas accents in the room—like leather club chairs and wrought iron light fixtures. (an aside: Overton is the name of the town where my father grew up) The location is stellar: just a few blocks from the Texas Tech campus, which by the way, is way more pulled together and lovely than my alma mater of UT-Austin.
My friend and fan Colleen works for the Chamber of Commerce, so she was just the gal to give me a tour around town. Over a heart attack inducing breakfast of biscuits and gravy at The Road House, we read the outstanding story about me in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal by their entertainment editor William Kerns. Hands down he conducted and wrote one of the best pieces about Alphabet City and me on the tour. Things seemed to be swinging a little differently in Lubbock than expected.
A little later, we stopped in at McPherson’s Winery set-up in the old Coca-Cola bottling plant. Naturally, I was super suspect of Texas wine, but the proprietor explained she focuses on grapes that work in a similar dry and hot climate so no Pinots in site. One taste of the Rosé of Syrah was all it took for me to change my tune and wrap up a bottle as a present for Chef.
Lunch across the street at the tapas spot La Diosa Cellars featured soaring ceilings from a warehouse conversion, and elaborate sprinklings of Mexican art. It was the kind of spot you’d expect to see in Austin. But Lubbock? When I mentioned the comparison to the capital city, Colleen ushered me off to Lubbock’s Depot Entertainment District—a collection of historic building made into cafés, galleries and performance venues where on the weekends you can stumble from spot to spot taking in lots of live music.
Just as I was about to ask what draws indie musicians from across the country to Lubbock, Colleen deposited me in front of a giant pair of black framed glasses. The oversized sculpture of the iconic frames belong to the Buddy Holly Center. I cringed a little—worried that the town might have gone a little over-the-top tacky pimping out their most famous citizen. I half-expected something akin to Las Vegas’ Liberace Museum (which I secretly kind of adore). Not so. The tasteful displays of Buddy Holly bric-a-brac are presented in a straight forward way that highlights his huge impact on early rock n’ roll including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
In fact, the director of the museum told me that the number of music fans from England who visit Lubbock for the Buddy Holly Center is huge. I can see why. I’ve always been enamored by his choice of eye wear, obviously, but Buddy was an early proponent of artists’ rights—he insisted on owning his catalogue of music—and used the latest technology to enhance his recordings. As an independent writer, I took copious notes about his passion for doing his own thing.
I settled in to watch a video filled with interviews of those who worked with Buddy, as well as legends who were affected by his talent. Sometime after Paul McCartney came up the face of someone with a very familiar name to me—Sonny Curtis, the man behind my anthem—Mary Tyler Moore’s theme song Love Is All Around. Sonny grew up in a town near Lubbock, and ended up as part of Buddy’s band The Crickets before Buddy’s life ended early and tragically in a plane crash. Although Buddy died young, with only a year and half of chart hits, his influence on music is tremendous. And the fact that he touched my life and connected with me in ways I never knew—through Sonny Curtis of all people—sent chills through me.
Later that night, the lovely citizens of Lubbock turned up at Identity Ink and Gallery for my book selling and signing. They howled at the readings about a kid from Texas trying to find his way in the fancy big city. I felt comfortable and at home—not a bit out of place—and could tell that Love Is All Around.
Thanks Colleen and thanks Lubbock for turning on the charm. Watch out, I have a sneaking suspicion I might just be back.