Hayden Pedigo is an absolute Texas legend. Not even for his music though. His ambient, acoustic guitar compositions are great, creative and peaceful, but I think his absurdist campaign for Amarillo City Council is one of the better things I’ve ever seen in my life.
Pedigo’s campaign looks like it was run by Eric Andre. His videos are shot on 90s era camcorders, or overlayed with a filter designed to make them look that way. In one set to a Danny Brown instrumental, he ungracefully measures the length of a cement drainage ditch with a tape measurer and then tosses a metal folding chair off a tiny cliff, for no reason.
There is a Connor O’Malley likeness to Pedigo’s aesthetic. O’Malley lampoons capitalism by taking it to its extreme but logical endpoint by helping the stock market by aggressively passing out Powerade on Wall Street. or screaming about how much he loves his favorite brand, weapons manufacturer Raytheon, next to the highway. Pedigo does this but to the Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Stuff Done political ethos that overly serious politicians foam at the mouth over.
I went to Amarillo once with my family and when you go there you can kind of come to see how it would produce a person like Hayden. I think a lot of people think of it as a backwater town in the Texas panhandle, but it has a small skyline. It still has a ghost town aura though and feels barren though. That also might be because we stayed downtown on Christmas, but I really can’t imagine the pace of the city changing that dramatically. I got the sense that they also liked god a lot. The office building across from our hotel turned on some of its lights and left others off to make a giant 15-or-so story tall cross. Just outside the city, there was apparently a billboard at some point that read, “Liberals, continue on I-40 until you have left our GREAT STATE OF TEXAS.” You put all this stuff together and you’re going to start generating kids that have bizarre senses of humor to cope.
For dinner one night while we were there, we went to a restaurant called the Big Texan Steak Ranch. It was one of those tourist type places that advertise with tacky billboards on the highway. My family almost never does that kind of thing, but it was so sick. This won’t do it justice but it was like if someone reimagined Dave & Busters as a kind of glossy wood-paneled Texan steakhouse. Situated in the middle of the restaurant is a table on top of a stage with a timer above it. The timer is for when people try to eat the 72 oz steak, plus shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, and a roll. If they do it, they get it for free. If they don’t, they have to pay $72.
I watched a guy named Tracy who drove all the way from Michigan with his wife try to do it. My brother, who is an adult in his 20s, kept yelling stuff like “Go Tracy!” and “You got this, my man!” from our table. Then he walked up to the stage, clapping and kept yelling the same kinds of things. He’s the kind of person who just generally appreciates chaos and disorder and tries to egg these things on. There was a timer and a counter above him that kept a live count of the number of ounces of steak he had eaten alongside the time remaining he had to finish. Tracy’s wife sat near us and just looked at him patiently, which I guess is the only way you can handle that kind of thing. Tracy ended up tapping out at 12 oz. away. He apologized to everyone for letting him down, but it was just honestly incredible to watch a human eat nearly four pounds of steak and we told him that. I hope he believed us.