Day Trips

Don't Mess With Texas turns 10 years old this month. Studies estimate that 96 percent of you reading this will recognize the anti-litter slogan, which has become the most recognized state slogan besides "Remember the Alamo!"

Between 1979 and 1985, the cost of picking up litter along roads reached a peak of $24 million. With an average annual inflation rate of 21%, the state would have been paying $161.5 million to clean up roadside garbage by 1995, according to Jacquelyn Gray of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Yet last year TxDOT, the sponsors of the campaign, spent only $20 million removing roadside debris.

The original $2 million campaign's target audience was white, pickup truck-driving males, 18-34 years old, and a young advertising firm based in Austin - GSD&M - has been handling the contract ever since the first public service announcement, at half time of the 1986 Cotton Bowl.

The 30- and 60-second radio and TV spots have utilized Texas talent, becoming a sort of mini-Austin City Limits. Entertainers who have worked for scale wages include Willie Nelson, George Foreman, Joe Sears & Jaston Williams, Ian Moore, and former Houston Oiler Warren Moon.

As head of TxDOT's audio-visual branch and still photographer on most of the TV shoots, Geoff Appold has amassed an awesome collection of photographs and stories. That very first Cotton Bowl ad featured Stevie Ray Vaughan sitting on a wooden stool in front of a giant Texas flag. At the end of the song "The Eyes of Texas," he looked into the camera and said, "Don't mess with Texas."

They recorded the song in the morning, Appold says - the TV studio crew was ready at 3pm and Vaughan showed up at 1am. For the next four hours Vaughan actually played the song for each take.

The ad agency crew shot the Fabulous Thunderbirds' video on FM2325, west of Wimberley. The filming took all day, but they had a carload of beautiful women to work with. Willie Nelson recorded his song and video in about two hours at his Pedernales Recording studio.

Appold says the stars of Greater Tuna, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams, kept the crew laughing. Lyle Lovett wore a smile even though it was nearly 100 degrees and his segment was taped in a smelly barnyard outside of Dripping Springs.

Warren Moon may have had it the worst when they filmed his commercial outside of New Waverly north of Houston; he was the only Oiler (there were supposed to be five) to show up the day after a grueling football game. Recruits from New Waverly High School saved the day.

Appold's favorite commercial was one he didn't work, in which a Confederate Air Force bomber chases a litterbug. "They wanted to end it with a bomb sound," Appold says, but decided that was a little much.

For information on the statewide litter program, call TxDOT at 467-5948.

Coming up...

Bicycling Big Bend is the first of five free seminars on the Big Bend on Thurs., Feb. 1-29, sponsored by REI, 9901 Capital of Texas Hwy. 343-5550.

Crystal River Inn in San Marcos begins their monthly Murder Mystery Weekends, Jan. 26-27. 512/396-3739.

Speakeasy Murder is the monthly mystery weekend at the Prince Solms Inn in New Braunfels, Feb. 16-17. 800/625-9169.

Day Trips, Vol.1, a book of the first 100 day trips from this column, updated and expanded, is available for $6.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, 1712 E. Riverside Dr., Box 156, Austin, TX 78741. n

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