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  • 3 weeks Is the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge Still in the Crosshairs of Trump’s Border Wall? Texasmonthly
    The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is a pristine 2,088-acre preserve that hugs the Rio Grande just east of Pharr. More than 160,000 people visit its verdant landscape each year, generating nearly half a billion dollars in annual eco-tourism revenue for the region. They come in hopes of spotting endangered animals, like the ocelot, or some of the more than four hundred species of birds—including rarities like the green jay, great kiskadee, and altamira oriole—that make this corner of South Texas one of the top birding destinations in the country.  Last year, when Congress appropriated $1.3 billion for a border ... more
  • 3 weeks Why We Need Molly Ivins’s Wisdom Now More Than Ever Texasmonthly
    Perhaps better than anyone, political commentator and journalist Molly Ivins could describe the absurdity of Texas and its politics with unabashed candor. “There are two kinds of humor,” she said in a 1991 People magazine story. “One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity…the other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule—that’s what I do.” Ivins, who grew up in a conservative household in Houston, is best known for her work in the Texas Observer and as a columnist at the Dallas Times Herald and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The response to her column, ... more
  • 3 weeks Carli Lloyd Won’t be Kicking in an NFL Game Tonight, But Might Some Day Texasmonthly
    Last week, Carli Lloyd—the former Houston Dash star currently on a summer-long victory lap after her success at the World Cup  with the U.S. Women’s National Team—made headlines in a different sport. As a guest of the Philadelphia Eagles at the team’s joint practice with the Baltimore Ravens, Lloyd took a few cracks at kicking field goals—and nailed two beautiful kicks right through the uprights: First a 40-yarder, and then a 55-yard try that looked like it would have been good from at least 60. The clip went viral; millions watched it, including a lot of folks in NFL front ... more
  • 3 weeks On Texas Time: Harper Watters, Houston Ballet Soloist and Internet Sensation Texasmonthly
    In 2014, the venerable Houston Ballet dancer Harper Watters received a pair of six-inch pink heels as a joke gift from a friend leaving the company. Having already amassed a sizable online following with videos showcasing his technical abilities, Watters, who’s been with Houston Ballet since 2011, saw the shoes as an opportunity to do something a little different. The result? A now-viral video of him and fellow dancer Rhys Kosakowski, clad in heels, strutting and twirling on a treadmill—all set to Fergie’s 2006 hit “Fergalicious.”  The 27-year-old parlayed that moment of digital fame into a popular Youtube series called ... more
  • 3 weeks What Texas Latino Leaders Want to Hear at the Democratic Debate in Houston Texasmonthly
    When the Democratic party’s presidential hopefuls take the stage together in Houston on September 12, just six weeks will have passed since the domestic terror attack at an El Paso Walmart left 22 people dead. The alleged shooter, a white man from Collin County who said he traveled hundreds of miles to El Paso to kill “Mexicans,” left behind a manifesto that echoed the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Trump administration. The violence has left many Latinos clamoring for answers and looking to the presidential race for a vigorous conversation about what comes next. Texas Monthly spoke to fifteen Texas Democratic ... more
  • 3 weeks On Her New Album, Jazzmeia Horn Wants to Embolden Listeners to “Do Something About It” Texasmonthly
    Jazzmeia Horn’s preternatural musical talents emerged early on in her hometown of Dallas, first in her grandfather’s Southern Baptist choir and later at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Horn, 28, has since grown into one of contemporary jazz’s young icons, thanks to her inimitable vocal approach and command of generational techniques.  After graduating from The New School’s renowned Jazz and Contemporary Music program, Horn delved into New York City’s jazz scene, performing at the likes of the Apollo. In 2015, she won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the genre’s elite tournament aimed at finding ... more
  • 3 weeks The Unlikely Meme-ification of Stevie Ray Vaughan Texasmonthly
    Stevie Ray Vaughan lost his life in a helicopter crash exactly 29 years ago today. Since that untimely death, the blues rocker’s stature has only grown. Vaughan’s posthumous honors include gold records and Grammys, inductions into both the Blues and Rock and Roll halls of fame, and perennial appearances on lists of the “greatest guitar players of all time.” This month saw the release of Alan Paul and Andy Aledort’s new Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan, a comprehensive oral history of his life. Vaughan’s bronze likeness stands beside Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, the silhouette on the ... more
  • 3 weeks ‘We Exist, We Have Voices, We Have Stories’: A New Festival Confronts the Borderland’s Complexity Texasmonthly
    On a recent balmy afternoon in Brownsville, Texas, the Carlotta K. Petrina Cultural Arts Center opened its doors—and windows—to feature works from artists in the Rio Grande Valley and the neighboring city of Matamoros, Mexico. One painting in particular, “Me Raja, Me Raja,” by local artist Emily Hinojosa, stopped many onlookers cold. It depicted a nude brown woman, who had an S-shaped, bloody cut running from her shoulder, between her legs, and down to the bottom of the canvas. A stretch of barbed wire bearing the same shape ran alongside her. The wound appeared fresh.  While the show’s selections aptly ... more
  • 3 weeks Brett’s BBQ Shop Serves Spectacular Brisket and Beef Ribs Texasmonthly
    It was noon on Friday, thirty minutes after Brett’s BBQ Shop in Katy had opened, and one of the specials was already sold out. Jacqueline Herrera, the restaurant’s general manager, had to smooth things over with a few customers who wouldn’t be getting their barbacoa tacos. She was taking orders faster than owner and pitmaster Brett Jackson could slice and plate them in the compact kitchen. One customer left, promising to return, while the others were happy to settle for brisket or the day’s hatch-chile-and-cheese sausage. I sat at the side counter both happy and uneasy, knowing that I was ... more
  • 3 weeks Meet the Unruly Clan That Once Ruled the Hill Country Texasmonthly
    Today, expensive homes dot the hills west of Austin, but there was a time not so long ago when the same rugged terrain was ruled by an infamous clan of rough characters known as the cedar choppers. Austin native Ken Roberts was ten or eleven the first time he encountered the children of cedar choppers in the 1950s, at a low-water crossing of the Colorado River below Tom Miller Dam. “I remember how different from us they looked,” he writes in the introduction to his book, The Cedar Choppers: On the Edge of Nothing. “They were barefoot, their pants were ... more
  • 3 weeks Andrew Luck’s Retirement Reveals the Uglier Side of NFL Fandom Texasmonthly
    On Saturday night, while the Indianapolis Colts were in the middle of a preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears, a stunning piece of news broke: The 29-year-old star quarterback of the Colts, Andrew Luck, would soon announce his retirement. Luck’s decision was unusual for a host of reasons—that it came just weeks before the start of the season, his reputation as one of the game’s best quarterbacks, and—crucially—his young age at a position where players with his talent can succeed at a high level well into their 30s. Many Colts fans turned on Luck. During the game, photographers captured images ... more
  • 3 weeks Can Texas Bats Be Saved? Texasmonthly
    Until recently, Texas was thought to be a potential bulwark against the spread of a disease that has killed more than six million bats nationwide. First appearing on the East Coast in 2006, white-nose syndrome has decimated several species of the winged mammal across the Southeast and Midwest. National media has referred to the outbreak as a “bat apocalypse,” but experts in Texas believe how the state responds could help turn the tide.   Early on, wildlife biologists hoped that Texas’s ecological diversity, preponderance of migratory species, and mild winters would hinder the spread of Pseudogymnoascus destructans (“Pd” for short), the ... more
  • 3 weeks Tanya Tucker: “You’re Gonna Love Me, or I’m Gonna Kick Your Ass” Texasmonthly
    Subscribe Apple — Google Play — Stitcher — Spotify Last week, Tanya Tucker released her first album of new material in seventeen years, While I’m Livin’. Brandi Carlile, who co-produced the album with Shooter Jennings, writes in an introductory note, “Tanya Tucker is the original female outlaw … She’s chaos and human. She’s learning, and she still wants to. There would be no Miranda, no Brandi, no Gretchen, no Maren without Tanya Tucker. That’s where we found our piss and vinegar.” Born in the small West Texas town of Seminole, Tucker had her first country hit, “Delta Dawn,” at the age of 13 ... more
  • 4 weeks The Texanist: Is There Really Only One Natural Lake in Texas? Texasmonthly
    Q: I followed my Texas-born and -raised wife back to the Lone Star State five years ago. One of the many things I have learned since then is that there is only one natural lake in Texas! Back up in Washington state, where I come from, there are many such lakes. How did all the “other” lakes appear in Texas? Scott Bishop, Southlake A: Welcome to Texas, Mr. Bishop! The Texanist is impressed with how well you’ve acclimated yourself in the unfamiliar land in which you’ve found yourself. You arrived just five short years ago and yet you’ve already managed to flawlessly unspool one of ... more
  • 4 weeks Kimberly King Parsons’ Fiction Illuminates Intimate Texas Moments Texasmonthly
    When her family moved from Lubbock to the suburbs of Dallas, Kimberly King Parsons—the author of the newly-released short story collection Black Light—pretended not to have an accent. Unlike the heroines in her fiction, who proudly stand out, hollering and singing long after they’re kicked out of the church choir, Parsons wanted to fit in. She was in the fifth grade. “I wanted to talk how my friends talked,” she says over the phone. “To sound ‘universal,’ or like what actors sound like.” Parsons has always been drawn to the intricacies of language, in childhood and college (she studied English—William Faulkner ... more
  • 4 weeks Houston’s Indigo Restaurant Is Named One of the World’s Greatest Places Texasmonthly
    For a little bitty restaurant off the beaten track in Houston, Indigo sure has made a big splash. In less than a year, it has landed on four prestigious lists. In March, Texas Monthly named it one of Texas’s best new restaurants of the year. Two national publications also gave Indigo some love: Food & Wine and GQ. Not only that, the James Beard Foundation nominated Indigo’s young chef-owner Jonny Rhodes for its Rising Star Chef award. Now comes an honor from an entirely different direction: Time magazine has included Indigo among its second annual “World’s Greatest Places”. What does that mean, ... more
  • 4 weeks Matthew McConaughey Is One of Austin F.C.’s New Owners Texasmonthly
    In most cities, the arrival of a Major League Soccer team wouldn’t exactly be front page news. But Austin’s not like other cities when it comes to pro sports. The nation’s 11th most populated city is the largest one without a major professional sports team, and the state capital has never had an NFL, MLB, NBA, or even NHL team flirt with the idea of moving to town. So when MLS—the U.S.’s third most-watched soccer league, behind Mexico’s La Liga and the British Premier League—announced their intention of placing a team in Austin, the city went bonkers. The saga of ... more
  • 4 weeks Texas Monthly Recommends: Normani’s Retro Pop Hit “Motivation” Texasmonthly
    Since Normani released her song “Motivation” earlier this month, it’s been stuck in my head every single day without fail. The retro pop song, co-written by Ariana Grande, pays homage to ‘90s and 2000s R&B singers while also situating itself perfectly in today’s contemporary scene, with everyone from Cardi B to Missy Elliott giving it their stamp of approval. The former Fifth Harmony member and vocalist was born in Atlanta, and her family relocated to New Orleans and later Houston after Hurricane Katrina. Since going solo, she’s more than proved that she’s able to stand alone. In the song’s accompanying ... more
  • 4 weeks Why Billy Bob’s, Texas’s Most Famous Honky-Tonk, Isn’t a True Honky-Tonk Texasmonthly
    It was 1981, and Texas chic fever was sweeping the nation. Dallas was the hottest show on TV. Urban Cowboy had just made millions at the box office. Yankees clumped down Fifth Avenue in cowboy boots. Beverly Hills brimmed with Stetsons and rhinestones. And on April Fool’s Day, in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards, Billy Bob’s Texas opened its doors. Today touted as the “world’s largest honky-tonk,” Billy Bob’s features thirty-plus bar stations, rows and rows of pool tables, a restaurant, a gift shop, a real bull-riding area, a faux bull photo-op area, a wall of fame, and ... more
  • 4 weeks BBQ News Roundup: Tons of Bacon Burnt Ends, a Pitmaster’s Potluck, and the Politics of Bill Miller Bar-B-Q Texasmonthly
    In the East Texas town of Douglass, they’re giving Tomball’s Tejas Chocolate and Barbecue a run for its money at Uncle Doug’s, where they smoke meat and make bean-to-bar chocolate. The author provides little evidence for his conclusion that American barbecue was simply appropriated from Native American cooking: By the time of the Texas annexation in 1845, the smell of barbecued meat had become as familiar a feature of pioneer towns as tumbleweed and dust. The history of the Barbecue, from our August issue:https://t.co/7dKCvKLe3I — History Today (@HistoryToday) August 2, 2019 Emma Heim of Fort Worth’s Heim BBQ told Cowboys ... more
  • 4 weeks Of Course Rick Perry Fell For the Instagram Hoax Texasmonthly
    On Tuesday, Rick Perry—the longest-tenured governor in Texas history and current United States secretary of energy—reposted a meme on his official Instagram account. It was a hoax, the kind that’s existed in one form or another on the internet since not long after Perry switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican back in 1989. This one, a wall of text copied from elsewhere, had been spreading across the platform for days before Perry found it. It purported to be a statement that a person could post to their account that would deny Instagram the right to “use your photos,” ... more
  • 4 weeks Are Y’all Ready to Become Houston Roughnecks and Dallas Renegades Fans? Texasmonthly
    The new iteration of the XFL pro football league will launch in February. The idea of giving fans more football at the end of the NFL season has been around for a while—and it’s never really stuck. But the original incarnation of the XFL, which shut down after just one season in 2001, came closer to finding an audience than any other attempt had in decades, and there’s legitimate hype for the league’s 2020 rebirth. A high-profile sports executive is running the show—former Oilers quarterback Oliver Luck, who went on to leadership roles at the Houston Sports Authority and the NCAA—and ... more
  • 4 weeks A Chilling Art Installation Over a Fort Worth Highway Protests Migrant Child Detention Texasmonthly
    If you drove along I-30 last month, you might have noticed something startling over the footbridge near Hulen Street, in western Fort Worth: a group of shadowy figures pressed up against the fence. They weren’t humans, but rather cardboard cutouts emblazoned with paintings of children on them—and they startled highway drivers. “One of my kids thought they were real for a second,” wrote Ben Maples on Facebook, one of many people chattering about the jarring display on social media and wondering how they’d ended up there. This past Independence Day, the Fort Worth-based artist and curator Linda Little watched the fireworks from ... more
  • 4 weeks How Oil-Loving, Frack-Happy Texas Could Lead the Low-Carbon Future Texasmonthly
    The energy industry has been good to Texas ever since oil gushed from Spindletop in 1901—and Texas has been good to the world. Blessed with an abundance of hydrocarbons, we prospered mightily, created millions of good jobs, and helped the Allies win World War II. Our technical know-how, risk-taking spirit, and vast resources have sparked innovations that have spread across the globe and bankrolled many of the institutions—universities, museums, public parks—that enrich our public life. In an era when carbon emissions didn’t matter, Texas was king of the energy world. But climate change threatens to knock us off the throne. ... more
  • 4 weeks Texas’s Greatest Honky-Tonk Hits Texasmonthly
    The soft glow of a jukebox in a dark honky-tonk is as reassuring as a lighthouse on a stormy coast. Like lighthouses, the jukebox serves as an anchoring point, a guide. And just like every lighthouse has its own distinct signal pattern, no two jukeboxes are exactly alike. In fact, part of what distinguishes one honky-tonk from another is the selection on its juke. But in any honky-tonk worth its beer salt, you can count on a few classics to always be there. Below are eleven honky-tonk standards, all written or performed by artists who hung their hats in Texas. ... more
  • 4 weeks Waving Farewell to the Dine-In Pizza Hut Texasmonthly
    Pizza Hut’s stout, rectangular storefront—replete with a red thatched roof and a raised strip at the peak of its gable—immediately conjures nostalgia for the Stranger Things era. And while there are other fast food chains with a distinctive architectural identity, the pizza restaurant’s iconic building style has been built right into its name. In the 1970s, the company ditched its original mascot—a cartoon character named “Pizza Pete”—for a logo that made the store’s name appear to be wearing a red hat. Pizza Hut was beloved by suburban kids into the next decade, because some of the tables also doubled as Pac Man games. In the ... more
  • 4 weeks Beto O’Rourke And Julián Castro’s Campaign Playlists Are Meaningless (But One Is Clearly Better) Texasmonthly
    Earlier this week, the New York Times posed a question: “What Do Rally Playlists Say About the Candidates?” The answer, as always, is nothing. This is politics as Tinder profile, and they tell us far more about the 2020 presidential hopefuls’ strategists than the candidates themselves. One could probably argue that it’s this dunderheaded focus on “optics” and “relatability” that’s turned the entire process into a glorified homecoming court. At most, all they tell us is that every campaign could stand to lay off Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People” for a while. While their song choices don’t tell us much ... more
  • 4 weeks A Texas Road Trip Inspired Australia’s Newest Barbecue Joint Texasmonthly
    Our driver wondered if we were in the right neighborhood. My family and I were looking for a restaurant in a light-industrial section of Keilor East, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. We were closer to the airport we’d just left than our downtown hotel, hoping to spot the sign for Houston’s Barbecue. The problem, as it turned out, is that they hadn’t had a chance to put one up. The one above the door of the place, once we’d found it, still noted the previous occupant, “Ally’s Corner.” It was the first day in business for Kit and Prue Houston. They’d ... more
  • 1 month Family of Migrant Father Who Died By Suicide Sues Federal, Local Authorities Texasmonthly
    Last May, a Honduran family of four that was fleeing violence in that country crossed illegally into the United States in the McAllen area and was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents. What the family didn’t realize was that just a month earlier, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had quietly issued an agency memorandum rolling out a new “zero tolerance” policy in which 100 percent of all adult migrants entering the country illegally would be prosecuted. Just four days before the Honduran family arrived at the Texas-Mexico border, Sessions publicly announced the policy in a speech in San Diego and declared ... more
  • 1 month From the Editor, September 2019 Texasmonthly
    A minister friend once described to me the way she balances her sermons. She reminds herself that while Jesus spoke powerfully for social justice, he also enjoyed food and wine and the company of friends, and sought not only to remonstrate but to inspire. That’s a useful admonition for both a minister and a magazine staff, and this issue demonstrates the mix we strive to achieve. We try to help readers enjoy what’s best about our state, even as we cover in-depth the conditions that cry out for improvement.  Some weeks ago, we assigned associate editor Christian Wallace to pilot ... more
  • 1 month September 2019: Roar of the Crowd Texasmonthly
    We publish reader letters in every issue of Texas Monthly. Below is feedback for our July 2019 issue. Have something to tell us? You can write to us here. Spaced Out As a 38-year veteran of NASA in Houston, I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the “To the Moon and Back” issue [July 2019], but for goodness’ sake, please restore the Best and Worst Legislators list to the print version. It is too important to relegate to digital format. Dave Bruce, Austin I read Texas Monthly cover to cover each month, so I started, as I always do, with your letter ... more
  • 1 month At Houston’s Embattled Alley Theatre, a Breath of Fresh Air Texasmonthly
    Since his introduction last November as the new artistic director of Houston’s Alley Theatre, Rob Melrose has done, by his own count, perhaps a hundred media interviews, videos, and public appearances with groups eager to meet the new de facto leader of the region’s theater scene. Not once, he insists, did he ever declare that he would shift the aesthetic values of the Alley—the Tony Award–winning downtown institution—toward experimental theater. At the same time, the 49-year-old Melrose brings to Texas a certain pedigree from his time as the cofounder of San Francisco’s notoriously edgy Cutting Ball Theater company, where he ... more
  • 1 month Meanwhile, in Texas: A Rat Snake Was Found in a Walmart Shopping Cart Texasmonthly
    After a woman found a rat snake in a shopping cart at a Walmart in Cross Roads, a snake handler was called in to remove it and was reportedly “only bit once in the process.” No one was seriously injured when a speedboat crashed into a Dickinson backyard where a man was barbecuing. A Baylor baseball player set an NCAA baseball tournament record with eleven runs batted in during a single game. A woman at a Mexican restaurant in Austin was arrested after allegedly pulling a gun on a man who was arguing with her over who would get to ... more
  • 1 month How the Flip-flop Got Fancy Texasmonthly
    Consider the flip-flop. As ubiquitous in Texas as the cowboy boot, it is, unlike the cowboy boot, not much of a canvas for flaunting one’s style. There isn’t a lot to the humble flip-flop. It exposes the foot and offers little in the way of support for the sole. Its primary structural element is a tiny piece of material that jams between the big toe and second toe. Often made from cheap rubber, a pair of flops can wear out after a single season. But Lila and Jeremy Stewart saw opportunity where others saw disposability. It was time, they decided, ... more
  • 1 month What This Lifelong Longhorns Fan Learned From the New Earl Campbell Biography Texasmonthly
    When Earl Campbell was playing for the University of Texas Longhorns in the mid-seventies, the future Heisman Trophy–winning running back wasn’t outspoken on the issue of race—he let his legs do the talking. But in the new biography Earl Campbell: Yards After Contact (UT Press), Austin American-Statesman staffer Asher Price tells of the important role the “Tyler Rose” played in normalizing race relations at UT. Here are five particularly illuminating moments from the book. After Marion Ford, one of the first black students admitted to UT, told a reporter that he wanted to play football his freshman year, the school ... more
  • 1 month Exploring the Cosmos at Space Center Houston and Beyond Texasmonthly
    In Houston the other day, children outfitted with virtual reality goggles were careering through the universe when an elderly man stopped to admire the world’s largest pallasite, a type of meteorite. He was decked out in a blue NASA flight suit, which suggested that he might have been a retired astronaut rubbing shoulders with some of the million or so annual pilgrims to Space Center Houston, the massive shrine to the past and future of human space flight. After all, astronauts regularly swing by from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, situated right across the street, to give public presentations or have ... more
  • 1 month What’s on the Horizon for Big Bend National Park Texasmonthly
    Big Bend National Park and its more than 800,000 canyon-carved acres in far West Texas got a new overseer last September. Bob Krumenaker left behind the sea caves and water-splashed cliffs of Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where he served as superintendent for sixteen years, to take the helm at Big Bend, which this year marks its seventy-fifth anniversary. Briefly a state park, Big Bend officially became Texas’s first national park on June 12, 1944. That first year, it drew 1,409 visitors. The past few years have seen record attendance at the park; in 2018, more than 440,000 people came ... more
  • 1 month The Best Honky-Tonks in Texas Texasmonthly
    There was a time, not so long ago—after World War II but before Willie moved to Austin—that most Texans would have shared a common, if working, definition of “honky-tonk.” But nowadays, many seem to have the wrong idea about what qualifies (and there are some, typically of the recently arrived variety, for whom the word might as well be Swahili). Part of what makes the term so tricky to nail down is the fact that there are certain ineffable qualities that a true honky-tonk must possess. Some historic venues lose it over time, and some brand-new joints have it from ... more
  • 1 month A Filipino Family’s Journey to Texas Texasmonthly
    In 1986 a young reporter named Jason DeParle received a scholarship that allowed him to spend a year studying urban poverty in Leveriza, a bustling slum in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Soon after arriving, he moved in with Tita Comodas and her five children, who hosted him off and on for eight months. Tita, the eldest of eleven children, had quit school as a teenager at her father’s insistence and moved to Manila from the countryside to work in a factory; her husband, Emet, worked in Saudi Arabia as a pool maintenance man. Emet hadn’t wanted to leave ... more
  • 1 month How Explosions In The Sky Became the Sound of Film and Television Texasmonthly
    You might not recognize Explosions In The Sky’s name, but you know their music. Consider backing tracks in the likes of Pacifico commercials and romantic comedies starring Reese Witherspoon: That understated minimalism, often created by a reverb-heavy guitar and a marching snare drum, is a hallmark of the Austin band.  Since their song “Your Hand In Mine” was used as the instantly-recognizable theme of the Friday Night Lights film in 2004, Explosions In The Sky have become a pervasive mainstream presence in movies, TV shows, and commercials, with an influence that’s rippled far beyond their own licensed tracks. As their longtime ... more
  • 1 month A Day on the Rio Grande Reveals the True Cost of Trump’s Border Wall Texasmonthly
    A surprisingly fresh breeze blew off the river as I watched 6-year-old Enrique Vargas cast a fishing line. Within seconds, he pulled it from the cool water, declaring that he’d felt a tug. When the hook emerged sans bait, Enrique expressed frustration. “The fish keep eating my fish,” he told me. His mother, Jasmine Hernandez of the tiny town of La Joya in deep South Texas, stood a few feet away on a floating 10-by-10-foot dock. She knew that her son, despite the lost bait, was creating lifelong memories as he and his stepsister, Jaylynn, enjoyed nature along the Rio Grande. ... more
  • 1 month Cocktail Recipes from Jet-Setter in San Antonio Texasmonthly
    Bar: Jet-Setter Location: 229 E. Houston, San Antonio Opened: April 2019 Founder/Beverage Director: Benjamin Krick, a veteran of San Antonio’s craft cocktail scene, most recently as bar manager at the now-closed but beloved Juniper Tar. The Story: This cocktail bar serves up destination-inspired drinks without pretense or kitsch: think complex tinctures for tiki drinks crafted in the kitchen housed behind the bar, and rarefied rums from Michoacán, all served in vessels befitting each beverage. Ambience: The subterranean space, outfitted with plush mid-century-modern furniture, stylish clocks displaying world times, and vintage international posters, beckons like an airport lounge from the golden ... more
  • 1 month Houston Dream Team Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel Score Again with Squable Texasmonthly
    Over the past decade, Houston’s dining cognoscenti have become accustomed to restaurants and bars with oddball names—Oxheart, Theodore Rex, Anvil, the Pastry War, Tongue-Cut Sparrow, Better Luck Tomorrow. So when Squable opened, it seemed like business as usual. Oh, a few people might have paused briefly to wonder why the word seemed to be misspelled or if it actually meant anything (see box below), but anyone who follows local restaurant news knew that Squable was in fact the brainchild of the two friends who dreamed up all those other weird names: James Beard Award–winning chef Justin Yu and nationally lauded ... more
  • 1 month Katherine Center: “I Don’t Want to Write Depressing Fiction” Texasmonthly
    Subscribe Apple — Google Play — Stitcher — Spotify The just-released seventh novel by Houston’s Katherine Center, Things You Save in a Fire, has racked up spots on lists of the most buzzed about books of the summer—from the Washington Post to the Hollywood Reporter, USA Today to Good Housekeeping. The story follows a former Austin firefighter to Boston, where she’s called upon to care for her ailing mother and winds up facing hazing, discrimination, and mortal danger while falling into forbidden love with another firefighter. Center’s conversational tone and ability to balance wit and suspense—in what the Dallas Morning News calls “a soul-nourishing” ... more
  • 1 month How the Unchecked Power of Judges Is Hurting Poor Texans Texasmonthly
    It was going to be his last shift at the Velvet Lounge, and all Marvin Wilford felt was relief. It was November 11, 2017—Veterans Day—and as he got dressed for work, Wilford put on his scarlet-colored Marine Corps cap. The Velvet Lounge, a strip joint in North Austin, billed itself on Facebook as “the official afterparty for the city,” but Wilford couldn’t say he had fun: as a doorman, he collected cover charges from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and did a lot of standing, sometimes outside. That evening, the temperature was in the sixties. Over his T-shirt and jeans, Wilford pulled ... more
  • 1 month ICE Doctor Defends Force-Feeding Detainees on Hunger Strike as ‘Uncomfortable’ But Necessary Texasmonthly
    In an El Paso federal courtroom on Friday, a doctor working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement calmly described the mechanics of force-feeding migrants who are hunger-striking at an El Paso detention center, a process that the United Nations has called “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” and she called “uncomfortable.” Under questioning from a government lawyer, Dr. Michelle Iglesias said that it takes at least ten medical and correctional personnel to conduct the procedure, which involves inserting a long flexible tube through the detainee’s nose, down the throat, and into the stomach. “It looks like a plastic straw, the same diameter,” Iglesias, ... more
  • 1 month Following Protests, the Plano Senior High vs. El Paso Eastwood Football Game Is Back On Texasmonthly
    On Friday afternoon, Plano Senior High School overturned a highly criticized decision its administrators made the day before. Plano ISD announced on Thursday that it would be canceling its out-of-district football game—long scheduled for September 6—against El Paso Eastwood. The district explained in a statement that “the timing of the game falls too soon after the tragedy in El Paso,” referring to the former Plano High student who murdered 22 people in an El Paso Walmart earlier this month. On Friday afternoon, reporter Matt Stepp of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football broke the news that amidst outcry from sports media, their own ... more
  • 1 month Texas-Style Barbecue Has Arrived in Denver Texasmonthly
    Searching for Texas-style barbecue outside the state lines usually means seeking out smoked brisket or maybe beef ribs. In Denver, I found a direct link to Central Texas through a few slices of the far less obvious coffee-rubbed pork tenderloin. Karl Fallenius learned the technique while working at Blue Ox Barbecue, a defunct trailer in Austin where the unique cut was a specialty. Now he smokes it at Owlbear Barbecue, which he opened in the RiNo neighborhood in late May. It doesn’t hurt that Fallenius also learned a few tips on cooking brisket during an eighteen-month stint at Franklin Barbecue before ... more
  • 1 month Recipe: Hominy Casserole, Updated From Mary Faulk Koock’s “Texas Cookbook” Texasmonthly
    Mary Faulk Koock’s classic The Texas Cookbook was published in 1965 as the definitive resource on Texan cuisine. Koock is best known as the force behind Green Pastures, her family home in Austin that she turned into a grand restaurant where governors, oil tycoons, and other high-society big shots wined and dined. (Green Pastures still houses a restaurant, now called Mattie’s, after Koock’s mother.) Famously written with the guidance of the one and only James Beard, Koock’s sprawling cookbook divides Texas by geographic region, starting with Austin and spiraling outward from there. It includes an almost overwhelming number of recipes, and ... more
  • 1 month Rainbow Courts, One of the Oldest Motels in Texas, Is Reason Enough to Visit Rockdale Texasmonthly
    As a rule of thumb when planning a trip, most of us consider the destination first and then select places to stay and eat. Rockdale, about 65 miles north-northeast of Austin, is one of those spots that inverts that approach: the food and the lodgings are the destination. Visitors travel to Rockdale specifically to feast on barbecue—at both Brett’s Backyard in town and Snow’s in nearby Lexington (a recent Texas Monthly readers’ choice bracket put them head-to-head for the best in the state, with the latter coming out on top)—and to stay at the historic Rainbow Courts Motel. There’s not much ... more
  • 1 month What Does It Mean to Be Latinx in the Wake of El Paso? Texasmonthly
    Throughout my entire life, my grandmother had a dicho for everything. She could pluck out the perfect saying from memory to make a situation lighter or assuage pain. In times of grief or sorrow, she’d sometimes say, “No hay mal que por bien no venga,” or “Something good always comes from the bad.” She’s no longer here, but even if she were, I don’t know if she’d ever be able to find the right combination of words to soften the blow of the El Paso tragedy. Since the recent shooting, I have been exhausted. My brain has worn itself out ... more
  • 1 month Richard Linklater on Bringing ‘Bernadette’ to Life Texasmonthly
    When you’ve directed as many films as Richard Linklater, it’s rare to encounter a “first” in a new one. His nineteenth narrative feature—Where’d You Go, Bernadette—isn’t his first featuring an undiscovered child star (the delightful Emma Nelson). It’s not his first time adapting a seemingly unadaptable book (he did it twice in 2006 alone, with Fast Food Nation and A Scanner Darkly). Nor is it his first international project (the Before trilogy bounced around Europe). It is, however, his first film with a woman as the central protagonist. It’s also the first time he’s shot somewhere that could pass as Antarctica ... more
  • 1 month Zebra Mussels Are Infesting Texas Lakes. There’s Only One Way to Stop Them. Texasmonthly
    The dreaded zebra mussel has struck again. Small and highly invasive, sharp-shelled and sometimes extremely stinky, these bivalve mollusks already infest much of the Highland Lakes chain along the Colorado River in and near Austin. This week brought news that they’ve been discovered farther upstream, in Lake LBJ, which they likely reached by hitching a ride. The mussels can spread downstream on their own but only move upstream by clinging to a boat. Once they reach a body of water, there’s no getting rid of them. Their recent discovery in LBJ, as well as Lake Pflugerville, brings to seventeen the ... more
  • 1 month We Are Firmly in the Boycott Era of Politics Texasmonthly
    Last week, Joaquin Castro tweeted a list of big-money individual donors to Donald Trump’s campaign from his hometown of San Antonio. In the tweet, Castro singled out San Antonio business owners, including Balous Miller of Bill Miller Bar-B-Q; Christopher Goldsbury, whose Silver Ventures owns the revitalized Pearl Brewery hotel and retail complex; and Phyllis Browning, owner of a leading real estate agency. Almost immediately, Castro was accused of “doxxing,” or endangering the safety of the people he named. But the outcry was overblown. The donation information is publicly accessible and Castro’s tweet didn’t include addresses or any other identifying information ... more
  • 1 month On Texas Time: Dan Lam, Drip Sculpture Artist Texasmonthly
    The visual artist Dan Lam has made a name for herself through her inimitable sculptures, often referred to as “Drips,” “Blobs,” and “Squishes.” Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Lily Aldridge rave about her work, and her huge social media following is not only a sign that her rainbow-hued forms are attracting a younger crowd of art aficionados, it has also opened many doors to collaborations. The Dallas-based artist is currently contributing to Refinery29’s sprawling, multi-room art experience 29Rooms—her art is displayed at the exhibit’s Art Park. Work frequently takes the 31-year-old traveling cross-country, but here’s what the artist does On Texas ... more
  • 1 month Former Ambassador Tony Garza on Mexico, Trump, and Whether Texas Is Turning Blue Texasmonthly
    Brownsville native Tony Garza, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, former Texas secretary of state, and former Cameron County judge, visited the Rio Grande Valley last week as part of an annual sendoff reception for college freshman from the Valley headed to the University of Texas at Austin, his alma mater. A Republican who cut his teeth in a solidly Democratic part of the state, Garza now finds himself at odds with Trump’s GOP. We caught up with Garza in Edinburg and talked about the presidents of the United States and Mexico, immigration, NAFTA, the domestic terror attack in El ... more
  • 1 month The Best Thing in Texas: Once Again, Simone Biles Shows Why She’s the Greatest of All Time Texasmonthly
    WHO: Simone Biles. WHAT: One of the world’s most dominant athletes again redefining what a person can do with their body. WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Simone Biles wasn’t having a great start to her time at the U.S. Gymnastics Championship on Friday. Her performance on the balance beam was far from her best—but she stuck the landing, quite literally, by becoming the first gymnast to ever come off the beam with a double-double dismount. WAIT FOR IT @Simone_Biles is the first person in history to perform this dismount and SHE NAILED IT. #USGymChamps pic.twitter.com/l7vVInxMJv — #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 10, 2019 See ... more
  • 1 month Filmmaker Angie Reza Tures: “It’s a Crazy Time To Be an Artist, To Be a Brown Person” Texasmonthly
    In her hometown of El Paso, filmmaker Angie Reza Tures never questioned her identity as a Mexican-American. But in the years since she left for the Bay Area (where she’s still based), it’s been impossible for her to ignore the countless ways that her heritage has been politicized. In 2016, Tures and five other female filmmakers from the U.S.-Mexico borderlands founded Femme Frontera—an annual film showcase that sought to highlight female voices from the border region. It began as a way for filmmakers to celebrate their roots, but as the collective toured the country and expanded to include female filmmakers ... more
  • 1 month Delbert McClinton: “I’ve Always Been a Fugitive From the Law of Averages” Texasmonthly
    Subscribe Apple — Google Play — Stitcher — Spotify “The older I get, the more I recognize that in music, you make your own luck,” says Delbert McClinton on this week’s episode of the National Podcast of Texas. Last month, the three-time Grammy winner released Tall, Dark, and Handsome, which he describes as a celebration of his Texas roots. It features entirely new songs, either written or co-written by McClinton. Rolling Stone writes, “It’s not a stretch to say that McClinton, at 78, is making the best music of his career,” and indeed he’s enjoying something of a renaissance. There’s a stack of terrific reviews ... more
  • 1 month Workers Defense Project Founder Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez Is the Latest Democrat to Take on John Cornyn Texasmonthly
    If you’re a Democrat in the market for a candidate who draws a sharp contrast with John Cornyn, you could do worse than Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez. She’s young, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, and a well-respected labor and political organizer. The 37-year-old community activist just announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in a two-minute YouTube video that went live early Monday morning. The video makes a pitch for a sort of rainbow coalition of Texas’ increasingly diverse tapestry. “Soon we’re going to be a country where people of color and children of immigrants make up the majority,” she ... more
  • 1 month The Scandal Swirling Around House Speaker Dennis Bonnen Is Bad. But Is It Criminal? Texasmonthly
    As far as speaker scandals go, L’affaire de Dennis Bonnen is missing some of the luster of past episodes. The controversy lacks the lurid appeal of that time in the nineties when Speaker Gib Lewis took a lobby-funded trip to a Mexican resort accompanied by some well-connected attorneys who brought along a stripper named Chrissee. Also absent is the avarice of Speaker Gus Mutscher who traded favorable legislation for a financial interest in a bank as part of the 1971 Sharpstown stock fraud scandal. And the importance of the Bonnen affair has been diminished on Twitter with the hashtag #Bonnghazi, putting ... more
  • 1 month The Texanist: Are the Marfa Lights Overrated? Texasmonthly
    Q: During a recent trip to West Texas I was invited to a private ranch that was advertised to me as “the best place to watch the Marfa Lights.” I went, and we definitely saw something. The host told us that we were really lucky to see such a great display of the lights, but I’ll admit I was kind of underwhelmed. The lights we saw were basically two little pinpoints of illumination off in the distance that maybe moved around a bit or maybe it was just the constant micro-movements of my eyeballs that created the illusion of motion? ... more
  • 1 month Meat Church BBQ Supply Is a One-Stop Shop For Barbecue Newbies Texasmonthly
    Early retirement is the dream of many who work in the world of finance. Matt Pittman managed it at age 43, but it wasn’t thanks to any fat-cat clients or boardroom deal-making. Pittman built a barbecue rub business, Meat Church BBQ, out of a last-place finish on a televised barbecue competition. When the company launched in 2014, he ran it out of his house in Waxahachie. Four years later, Meat Church had surpassed one million dollars in total sales. So Pittman threw himself a retirement party in February, signaling his departure from corporate life. In April, he opened a retail ... more
  • 1 month Texas Monthly Recommends: Driving and Listening to “Dallas” by Silver Jews Texasmonthly
    The poet and songwriter David Berman possessed an idiosyncratic grasp of language—capable of locating precisely why a moment hurts, lingers, or both. On August 7, Berman passed away at the age of 52. He’d just released a gorgeous new album named Purple Mountains and was getting by, though didn’t conceal the fact that he’d been struggling. When I heard the news, the only thing that immediately felt right to do was get in my car, put on the song “Dallas” (by his band Silver Jews) and go for a drive. Berman, who was born in Virginia and raised partially in ... more
  • 1 month Jia Tolentino Explores the Perils of Self-Delusion in Her First Book Texasmonthly
    The thirty-year-old New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino has been called the millennial era’s Joan Didion for her incisive essays on everything from internet culture to modern feminism. Her essay collection, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion (Random House), which was released on August 6, explores these issues and also delves into the autobiographical, including examinations of her Texas upbringing (she grew up in Houston but lives in New York City) and her stint on the mid-aughts reality TV show Girls v. Boys. Tolentino explains how these themes come together in her book. Why exploring self-delusion is important in 2019. The entire ... more
  • 1 month Top 5 BBQ’s Kendon Greene Stages a Comeback With KG’s Pitmaster BBQ Texasmonthly
    Just a year ago, Kendon and Davetta Greene began the expansion of their successful barbecue joint in DeSoto. Top 5 BBQ was in the Texas Monthly Top 50 and had just been named the best barbecue in town by the Dallas Observer. Since opening in 2015, they had outgrown their space and were readying a new location across the street from their original. They’d have never guessed then that the business would close its doors for good just eight months later. The Greenes started construction for the expansion on July 21, 2018, and a week later, Kendon’s father and business partner ... more
  • 1 month The Speaker and the Creeper: Everything You Need to Know About the Craziest Texas Political Scandal in Years Texasmonthly
    Have you ever seen slow-motion footage of an atomic bomb test? There’s a bright flash of light and an explosion that starts small, and you could be forgiven for thinking, Is that it? Then the mushroom cloud starts building to the size of a mountain, and the shockwave starts to radiate out, and it becomes clear that a lot of things in the immediate vicinity are probably not going to be okay. That’s what it’s been like to watch the developments in the widening scandal that centers on accusations made on July 25 by conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan who, ... more
  • 1 month BBQ News Roundup: Southside Market Grows, Brisket Prices Soar, and Germans Love Texas Barbecue Texasmonthly
    The oldest name in Texas barbecue will expand to Austin and Hutto when Southside Market opens a new store, its third, this year and another in 2020. Brace for record high brisket prices: Brisket prices soar on growing appetite for barbecue https://t.co/JIWkoVlWXh pic.twitter.com/2Hzkt1LZgr — CBS News (@CBSNews) August 3, 2019 Robert Austin left Uptown Bar-B-Q in Dallas to open Austin’s Bar-B-Que in Addison with his wife Valerie. One90 Smoked Meats in Dallas will have a new address in 2020 when it opens a much larger location. The Dallas Observer likes the smoked brisket breakfast taco from Meat U Anywhere BBQ, but ... more
  • 1 month The Best Thing in Texas: This 11-Year-Old is Showing the World What El Pasoans Are Made Of Texasmonthly
    In the wake of a mass shooting that rocked his hometown, sixth grader Ruben Martinez brainstormed with his mom to find a way to shine some light on the community. In his spiral notebook, Martinez outlined the #ElPasoChallenge, encouraging everyone in the city to do 20 random acts of kindness in honor of the then-20 people who lost their lives in the shooting (the death toll has since risen to at least 22). After offering initial suggestions like visiting a nursing home or donating to people in need, Martinez also jotted down ideas on how to get everyone to participate, ... more
  • 1 month Season Three of “Dear White People” Meanders To Reach Its Point Texasmonthly
    Justin Simien’s Dear White People has often felt like it was biting off more than it could chew, even since its earliest incarnation as a movie. In the 2014 film, and subsequent two seasons of the Netflix TV show, Winchester University’s black students have dealt with a blackface party, the integration of the only all-black dorm on campus, and internet trolls—not to mention what they’re each dealing with personally. These incidents alone call for multiple perspectives, because they’re multi-faceted issues reflective of never-ending conversations and realities among black people. For a satirical television show to try to fully explore these topics in just ten ... more
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