Dire news coming out of West, Texas -- an explosion at a fertilizer plant has rocked the town, killed five to 15 people and possibly injured scores of others.
Hair Balls has a father-in-law who lives on a farm a few miles from the explosion.
The house shook, he said; initially he thought it was a meteor.
Almost no one has heard of West, but it's a great little town. Here are five facts:
5. It's not in West Texas. Residents have long learned that no one hears the comma in "West, Texas." The town of 2,600 is north of Waco, on the edge of the Hill Country. There's no truth that it was named after a local graduate of California University of Pennsylvania.Video of the blast.
4. It's the Czech-iest town in Texas. Many of the 2,600 residents have Czech roots, which means you can get some of the best kolaches in Texas here. (As reporters are now no doubt discovering.) Each year the town hosts Westfest, a "Czech & Polka Festival" where much beer is consumed.
3. Willie Nelson was born next door. The next town over is Abbott, hometown of Texas icon Willie Nelson. One of the Red-Headed Stranger's numerous weed arrests happened on the highway between Abbott and West.
2. We're gonna frack the fuck outta this place. Energy people have been sniffing around the town for a while now, convinced it's sitting on a whole bunch of frackable energy. This being Texas, there hasn't been a lot of environmental concern about all this.
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1. RIP, the legendary West Special. Perhaps the best hot dog in Texas -- at least in the category of take 'em home and cook 'em yourself -- was the West Special, sold at a long-established butcher shop on the main strip in West. (The "main strip" is two blocks, three if you're generous.) Within the past few years, though, the butcher shop has closed and, sadly, taken the West Special recipe with it. The world's a poorer place for hot dog fans.
West is a friendly, tough town, and it will get through this. Your prayers and good thoughts should be sent that way....and don't forget the comma.
A screencap of the moment of the blast, from an amateur video: