Blame The Tex Games

Picture a massive herd of “dudes” with insectoid eyewear, moto-racing jerseys, pickup trucks, beer bellies, and flannel. Throw in a few hundred snowboarders, maybe three dozen diehard skaters, a stripper or two, moms making potato salad, baked beans, dads cooking hot dogs and beef patties, haggard looking girls of all shapes and sizes, boys swimming in their baggy drawers while appearing tough and aimless. Then picture all these people drunk as hell, and you have a picture of The Tex-Games Year 2000.

The piston heads had the freestyle motocross jumping to keep them busy. Photo: Carstens

Oh yeah, and be sure to imagine a biker gang doing security. The Banditos were on hand to “keep the peace.” Altamont revisited? Not quite, it was a more rock and roll weekend than anything The Rolling Stones have done in the last two decades. What the hell am I talking about you wonder? My friends, as I said and I’ll say again: picture the Tex-Games Year 2000–two days of total mayhem and grand idiocy.

Where to begin? How does one set the tone aptly, quickly for something as magical, communal and in some sense so supremely sub-moronic as The Tex-Games? Hmm, mullets. There it is. Visualize a sea of mullets, wobacks, 1090’s, hockey-hair, soccer-rocker, “business up front-party in the back,” hair-don’t, the Kentucky waterfall (or in this case, the Glacier Waterfall). Northwest Rednecks Represent! The Tex-Games is destined to be the most legendary of all Mt. Baker events. Mark my words.

I was there May 12-13th, 2000. Two weeks later I’m still scarred, still smiling, and still trying to make sense of what it is about my home state, my friends, my passions in life (snowboarding, skateboarding, music, muddy clearings in the woods lit on fire and covered in trash) that I love so much?

Washington State, affectionately known to some as “The Land of A Thousand Missing Torsos,” is a dark and foreboding place filled with creeps, freaks and rebels. Is it something in the water? (lead?) I can’t explain. But I’ll try.

What would a Northwest skate session be without Scott Stamnes. Photo: Carstens

Since the age of fourteen I’ve come to Mt. Baker for the snowboard community’s year-end parties. Generally, one can count on fistfights, stuff being broken and lit on fire, dumb low-level drunken stunts; basic run of the mill debauchery. But this year when I was asked to attend I had this strange feeling that I shouldn’t miss the Tex-Games. I had a premonition it was going to be something more, something bigger: something quite unlike anything previously conceived of or witnessed up here in these woods. Only a legendary figure like Mike “Tex” Devenport could make this up and pull it off. I found faith.

Tex raised $10,000 this year in order to put on his games in Glacier, Washington; just 35 minutes up the Mt. Baker Highway from Bellingham. It showed. Last year’s Tex-Games were but a pale shadow of the majesty that was erected this time around. Tex received financial sponsorships from The Seattle Cycle Center, Mervin Manufacturing, Glissade, and many other supporters in order to bring on the noise with style.

Utilizing his entire 40-acre plot of land, Tex and his volunteers did the place up. They erected chain-link crowd control fencing, built campgrounds, and hired a sound engineer and P.A. equipment for the 20 bands that would play on the tarp-covered stage. They created a huge motocross jump, skateboard ramp, outdoor boxing ring, tree fort announcers booth, and installed search lights at every conceivable angle to keep the party well-lit and raging long into the night. It was terrifying and beautiful. Like some extreme-sporting outpost on the edge of an evergreen forest in Mad-Max’s post-apocalyptic world.

Other, cleaner (California?) places create things like The Warped Tour where happy, shiney punk bands play on dazzlingly, enormous stages while “athletes” do stunts on expensive ramps in the background. At the Tex-Games, however, guys drilled screws into the 16-foot wide, 6-foot tall mini-ramp until 3 AM and then skated it in the dark, drunk, for hours.

Here, homegrown tough girls got in the boxing ring, donned gloves and beat the absolute shit out of each other until one or both were bleeding like pigs in a slaughterhouse. Truck-pulling MACHO rednecks left each other’s entire transmissions and engine blocks melting in clouds of thick blue smoke. Motocross daredevils launched 40 foot uphill dirt gaps and narrowly missed killing dozens of idiots to the delight of hundreds; their mulleted manes flowing in the breeze. This was all on the afternoon of the first day. Then night fell and the bonfire went up. Then the drinking really started. Then the temperature dropped to the single digits and still everyone ran around in their muddy t-shirts, cradling cups of booze and digital video cameras–totally oblivious. It was ridiculous. And wonderful. And we all knew it would only get more so.

Dear God, on the morning of day two of the Tex-Games, us braver, (or at the very least less hung-over) souls dedicated ourselves to riding slow snow in the blazing sunshine up at Mt. Baker. The Ski/ Snowboard Free-riding Contest under chair 6 looked terrifyingly icy and too, too troublesome to enter or watch. So we didn’t. Sorry.

For some reason (hangovers?) the on-mountain halfpipe contest and the Big Air event were canceled. It’s just as well, the snowboard park was booming with huge booters, spines, and tabletops. The canyon was a bombed-out mess of avalanche debris. Damn near every other part of the mountain was too slow to be of much use. But it was sunny and fun for a couple of hours. Besides, we knew where the real action was: in Glacier.

Day two of the Tex-Games got underway when grown women (and at least one rumored-to-be underage stripper from Canada) went head to head in the wet T-shirt contest. It was tame enough for the first five minutes. Water + T-shirt = yawn. Then the crowd of nearly a thousand watched in horror and amazement as the (rumored-to-be underage stripper from Canada) got buck-naked, turned around, bent over, and let a guy shoot a water cannon at her for two minutes.

Sorry that I can’t state this any more delicately, but that’s the pretty much the way it went down. The audience roared. It was like that new Russell Crowe movie “Gladiator.” The testosterone level went sky- high! Dudes lost their minds! Girls lost their minds! And the rumored-to-be-underage Canadian stripper won a brand new Gnu snowboard. It was so dumb that it was kinda brilliant. Sometimes being wrong is it’s own defense. I think this was one of those times.

For the human-powered moto style it was the BMX dirt jumping. Photo: Carstens.

Then more skateboarding, more BMX jumping, more motorcycle big air antics, a moto-bike ghost ride event, more boxing (with more fistfights outside the ring than in), and more blisteringly loud punk, ska and jam bands vying for the attentions of the assembled, loose-nuts and alterna-jocks.

It went on and on. The cops came. Hot Rod Circuit played NWA’s “Fuck Tha Police” for them. Hilarious, wacky kids. The cops had mullets. No one got taken to jail. Amazing.

As I said it just went on and on. It was a beautiful thing. Thanks Tex.

See you next year.