Friday Night Lights

In 1990 the book Friday Night Lights, written by journalist HG 'Buzz' Bissinger, was published to much critical acclaim. It follows the Panthers football team of Permian High School during the team's 1988 season. No fawning bit of fluff, the book delves deeply into the lives of the young players and their coaches. It displays teenage angst and portrays a community where academic excellence is ridiculed in favor of success on the playing field. Many locals were horrified at its exposure of racism and other social ills in Odessa. The book was adapted into a 2004 movie and used as the basis for the popular TV series that ran from 2006 to 2011.

The huge Ratliff Stadium, which seats nearly 20,000, is next to the school. Signs, emblazoned with the nickname 'Mojo,' show the team's long history of victory, which coincidentally went into decline when the book was published. (Archrival Midland Lee High School has been doing much better.) But fall Friday nights here under the lights are still the place in Texas to watch high-school football. See www.mojoland.net for more info.

What the…? Jackrabbit

Odessa claims to have the world's largest jackrabbit statue. This 8ft-tall rabbit was the product of a local booster in 1962. Now a popular photo op, it reflects local attitudes about varmints in that a plaque lists a recipe for 'jackrabbit and dumplings'.