When I was in high school, all of the outsider kids referred to Lubbock as "Dirt City" -- both lovingly and as a minor complaint. We were lost in a dust storm trying to find ourselves.

Luckily, we grew up, and hopefully the outsider kids of today aren't as bullied, stigmatized or as alone as we thought we were. And I can say with complete confidence that it could have been worse. Because in Amarillo it was. Tragically worse.

Our friends up north called Amarillo "Bomb City" after the PanTex weapons facility. When we were picking dirt out of our teeth, their very name meant violence.

Under the guidance of their infamous patron Stanley Marsh, they created most of those strange and wonderful pseudo street signs that are still peppered through Amarillo. Signs that say things like "I Am Not Sure What I am Going to Do" and "No Curfew, to Live We Must be Up at All Hours." They also replanted the Cadillac Ranch, those modern monoliths where tourists leave spray painted offerings. One of the best loved members of the troupe was a kid named Brian Deneke.

During an incident at an IHOP parking lot just before Christmas in 1997, Brian (19) was run down and killed by 17-year-old Dustin Camp in his new Cadillac, presumably over the petty "wars" that had been waged between two groups over cultural differences. Deneke was a punk rocker and musician, while Camp was an athlete.

Bomb City movie
3rd Identity Films

In the subsequent trial, Brian's own clothing was used as evidence against him, because even as the murdered victim he was very much on trial. Arguably, he lost.

Despite being found guilty of manslaughter by a jury, Dustin Camp was sentenced only to 10 years of probation.

Needless to say, there was outrage at the perceived injustice. Brian's name became a warning to like-minded kids: They would not receive the same liberties or protections as wealthy kids, "normal" kids or clean-cut bullies.

I was too young to have known Brian Deneke. But I heard about him a lot. Older friends told stories; there were 'zines and benefit shows. It was imperative that his side be told, even if it was underground and only to a minority.

He needed justice somehow, and even though it all happened 125 miles away it felt like a crime scene in the backyard. Our two towns were and are connected musically, culturally and through a united sense of purpose and identity.

After 20 years, Brian's story is becoming a film with the blessing of his family and close friends. If all goes as planned, Amarillo native Jaime Brook's "Bomb City" will be ready in time to be entered into the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where it will be reviewed by some of the most influential people in film.

I hope the movie makes it, because these are the people who can take this important story to a much wider audience. As West Texans, we can and should show the beauty of our diversity to the world.

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