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  • 3 weeks Hollywood, Texas: Matthew McConaughey Is Coming Back to Conquer Television Texasmonthly
    As we’ve documented exhaustively within this very column, every week brings a little bit of Matthew McConaughey, if you know where to look. Still, it’s been a while since Austin’s cultural guru was a weekly presence on our TV screens—not since True Detective first brought the McConaissance to its fever-dream peak in 2014.  But time really is a flat circle, it seems: Deadline reports that McConaughey is teaming up again with True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto for the new FX series Redeemer, based on Patrick Coleman’s modern noir, The Churchgoer. The show will find McConaughey in another dark night of ... more
  • 3 weeks UT-Austin and Dell Announce $100 Million Partnership to Help Low-Income Students Graduate on Time Texasmonthly
    It’s true nationally, and it’s true at the University of Texas at Austin. Even when students from low-income families make it to college, the financial, academic, and social challenges they face mean they are less likely than their peers to graduate on time. At the state’s largest public university, only 73 percent of students from low-income families graduate within six years, compared with 86 percent of their classmates overall. This fall, UT-Austin will debut a new $100 million, 10-year partnership with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation to help more of these students earn degrees, with a goal of raising ... more
  • 3 weeks How to Make Seven-Layer Dip—Also, What Time Is the Super Bowl? Texasmonthly
    Seven-layer dip is the most popular Super Bowl dish in Texas, according to a press release we received on Monday—just six days before the big game, which starts at 5:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, February 2, on Fox. The report included a map of every state’s favorite Super Bowl snack, which they compiled by analyzing Google Trends that looked at what people across the United States were searching for. This year, Texas got seven-layer dip. It’s certainly a Texas-y dish, even if these metrics are inherently subjective and unscientific. Last year, a similar map gave us spinach dip, which, sure. ... more
  • 3 weeks Recipe: Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings Texasmonthly
    How do you like your chicken and dumplings? A quick poll revealed differing views among my friends. Some insisted on rolled dumplings. Some dropped dumplings. Some called for no vegetables whatsoever; others craved peas and carrots. There were those who wanted tons of herbs and those who preferred only thyme. Some were willing to experiment with adding fish sauce or Maggi or bourbon; for others it was Meemaw’s way or the highway. My collection of community cookbooks also were no help in determining a definitive Texas chicken and dumplings recipe. I expected the drop-versus-roll debate to cut along clear geographic ... more
  • 3 weeks Koko Ramen’s Reboot Kicks the Spice Up a Notch Texasmonthly
    Koko Ramen first opened its food truck in 2017. It was a big deal back then to offer barbecue and ramen together in Waco, a city not known for culinary diversity. That’s changed significantly in the last few years. New and exciting restaurants are opening, the barbecue scene has really blossomed, and there’s even a food hall in downtown. Union Hall opened last August and just held its official grand opening. The festivities included an expanded and refined version of chef Cade Mercer’s Koko Ramen, which began serving from its new digs a couple months ago. They’re still stuffing bao ... more
  • 3 weeks Who Would Have Guessed Patrick Mahomes Would Be the Best Texas Quarterback of the 21st Century? Texasmonthly
    It’s hard to win a football championship with a bad defense, but it’s impossible to win with a bad quarterback. And as the position has grown in importance, so too has Texas become one of the nation’s most crucial proving grounds for young passers. Some of that top-flight talent ended up playing their college ball outside of Texas—Super Bowl MVP (and Westlake grad) Nick Foles went to Arizona, while Stratford alum and perennial Pro Bowler (up until his surprise retirement) Andrew Luck opted for Stanford—but the list of great college quarterbacks from Texas over the past two decades is a ... more
  • 3 weeks Bull Session: Ted Cruz Rides Impeachment to the Top of the Podcast Charts Texasmonthly
    After several months of peddling his heroic tale about President Donald Trump, patriotic anti-corruption crusader, while also calling for the long-overdue impeachment of Hunter Biden, Texas senator Ted Cruz has finally parlayed his side hustle into a podcast, the natural habitat for conspiracy theories, self-indulgent theatrics, and bearded white guys. Verdict With Ted Cruz dropped this week on iTunes and Spotify, giving its listeners Cruz’s unfiltered, late-night thoughts on the day’s impeachment proceedings—ideal for anyone who wants a fair, impartial take on why the Democrats are vindictive liars, or who simply can’t get enough of Ted Cruz’s voice in their ... more
  • 3 weeks My Futile Search for Great Tex-Mex Ribs Texasmonthly
    It was getting dark when I headed south out of Austin. Houston was my destination for the night, but I’d gotten a tip about the ribs at Dos Rios, a Tex-Mex restaurant in New Braunfels. It was a heck of a detour, but I was getting desperate. I’d been searching the state, following leads from strangers, to find a great rack of Tex-Mex ribs. After seven restaurants, and just as many disappointments, I held on to hope as tightly as I gripped my steering wheel on Interstate 35 during rush hour. Driving through New Braunfels, I passed the massive Bavarian ... more
  • 3 weeks Bernie Sanders Has Closed the Gap With Joe Biden in Texas Texasmonthly
    Texas has been a weird state in the 2020 primary race. Until he suspended his campaign in early November, Beto O’Rourke held a virtual lock on between 12 and 20 percent of the state’s Democratic voters, even as his polling nationally hovered around a point or two. When he left the race, the early polling suggested that his supporters had gravitated to Joe Biden—who, in the last statewide poll of Texas in mid-December, held a twenty-point lead in the state. That was then, though. According to the latest poll from Texas Lyceum, the state of the race in Texas much ... more
  • 3 weeks How Much Does the Democrats’ Big Flop in Tuesday’s Special Election Matter? Texasmonthly
    Special elections play the same role in political discourse that the unexpected passing of a comet played in the ancient world—an opportunity for soothsayers of varying quality to impart their own interpretations onto an unsuspecting populace. Is it a sign that the world is ending, or that the spring festival will be especially lovely this year? Who can say? A comet transited the sky over Fort Bend County last night: the special runoff election in state House District 28, formerly represented by respected Republican moderate John Zerwas. After national Democratic groups injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race ... more
  • 3 weeks You Put What in My Tortilla? Chefs Are Adding New Colors and Flavors to Masa Texasmonthly
    Mixing ingredients into masa to create tortillas with unusual flavors or colors is a practice that goes back generations. Along the Texas-Mexico border, it’s not hard to find tacos rojos, which are made with intensely red tortillas that are traditionally colored by adding chili powder into the masa (though it’s common to use artificial coloring). Tortillas de nopales made with dehydrated and powdered cactus paddles are available throughout Mexico, as well as at tortillerias and Mexican markets in Texas. In the Mexican state of Sonora, there are garbanzo tortillas. Veracruz is known for tortillas made from a mix of corn ... more
  • 3 weeks Waymo’s Autonomous Trucks Are Rolling Into Texas—And Bringing a Debate About Jobs and Safety With Them Texasmonthly
    Over the last few years, Waymo—the self-driving technology company that’s part of Alphabet, the Google parent company—has launched fleets of autonomous big rigs and minivans in California, Arizona, and Georgia. Last week, the company revealed plans for a vast new territorial expansion into Texas and New Mexico. Eager to identify promising commercial routes, Waymo says it’s been lured to Texas because of the state’s high freight volume, according to a statement provided by the company.  Waymo says it plans to start by using its autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans equipped with a suite of sophisticated sensors to create detailed maps of ... more
  • 3 weeks FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on His Plans for Transforming the Agency Texasmonthly
    In mid-December, Dr. Stephen Hahn, an oncologist who most recently worked as chief medical executive at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, became the twenty-fourth commissioner of the federal Food and Drug Administration, the agency charged with ensuring the safety and efficacy of medical products and food. Hahn emerged as a front-runner for the post in early September after reports that he’d met with President Trump at the White House. Norman Sharpless, who was acting commissioner after Scott Gottlieb resigned from the post last April, had also been a finalist to get the job permanently. But some administration officials, Politico ... more
  • 3 weeks Taco of the Week: Tacos Potosinos at the Plaza Mexican Restaurant Texasmonthly
    I was trepidatious about my return to Childress. A while back, I stopped there with a photographer friend of mine—a tall Korean American—on the way to an assignment across the state border in rural western Oklahoma. It was after 5 p.m. on a Sunday, and everything but fast-food joints was closed. As we walked around the empty downtown, we noticed some crumbling buildings—not an unusual sight for towns in this part of Texas—and paused to gaze at some classic cars displayed behind plate-glass windows. Everything was going great until, in one thirty-minute span, two different pickup trucks slowly trailed us. ... more
  • 3 weeks Boomtown, Episode 8: Wild West Texas Texasmonthly
    If you know where to look, there are pockets of West Texas where visions of the Old West still appear from time to time, like mirages in the heat. I caught a glimpse one Saturday morning last December. Perched atop a pipe fence at the Bullhead Ranch, some forty miles northwest of Odessa, I was scanning the horizon when a white-faced Hereford cow stepped through a thick tangle of mesquite. She was followed by her calf. Seconds later, a herd of rust-colored cattle burst through the brush and came streaming toward me. Guiding the cattle were a dozen cowboys. Most ... more
  • 3 weeks Texans Had a Big Night at the 2020 Grammys Texasmonthly
    The least cool major award show in the country, the Grammys, once again celebrated our coolest artists on Sunday night. That tension lies at the heart of the event, which pits incomparable talents against one another in an attempt to determine who’s objectively more deserving of an award like Song of the Year. This year, alternative pop artist Billie Eilish swept the four major awards categories, including Album of the Year, becoming only the second artist to do so—the first was San Antonio native Christopher Cross, who sailed to success at the same ceremony back in 1981. Musical taste is idiosyncratic ... more
  • 4 weeks Cherry Block’s Smoke-Kissed Gumbo Reflects the Restaurant’s Barbecue Pedigree Texasmonthly
    In Texas, you can find barbecue smoking in unlikely places. Circling a high-rise apartment building in downtown Houston, I spotted a sign for Cherry Block inside the six-month-old Bravery Chef Hall. The weekend prior at Foodways Texas’s Camp Brisket, the restaurant’s chef, Jess DeSham Timmons, had assured me the Cherry Block staff was smoking meats for several items on the menu. Walking into the food hall, I saw the restaurant’s tiny open kitchen just behind the counter and thought they must be smoking off site. But then the door of a compact steel smoker opened in the corner of the ... more
  • 4 weeks ‘The Real Housewives of Dallas’ Stars Stephanie Hollman and Brandi Redmond on the Show’s Latest ‘Heated and Hate-Filled’ Season Texasmonthly
    Subscribe Apple — Google Play — Stitcher — Spotify Across four seasons of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Dallas, Stephanie Hollman has been open about her history of depression, even revealing details about a suicide attempt. She says talking about her mental health issues, and not just pretending life is perfect, has been therapeutic. On the heels of a particularly contentious season of the show—even by Housewives standards—she believes what got her through it was an ability to separate her reality television role from actual reality. “For me, the show is a job, and then I have my life,” says Hollman, an original ... more
  • 4 weeks A Year After 7-Year-Old Jakelin Caal Died in U.S. Custody, Everything (And Nothing) Has Changed for Her Family Texasmonthly
    The Guatemalan town of San Antonio Secortez is seven hours by car from the capital, Guatemala City, and fourteen hours by bus on winding roads that climb high into the mountains. The last part of the trip follows a one-lane road that sends passengers thrashing back and forth before finally arriving at the remote town, marked by a few rough streets and several dozen drafty homes with thatched roofs. There’s no electricity or running water in San Antonio Secortez. Most homes don’t have doors. The surrounding countryside is beautiful—lush fields of maize and beans live amid the foggy, tree-choked peaks ... more
  • 4 weeks So Far From Heaven, So Close to Texas: Duncan Wood on Trump, Mexico, and Texas Texasmonthly
    On December 1, Andrés Manuel López Obrador celebrated his first anniversary as president of Mexico. Despite ongoing corruption, an increase in drug-cartel-related violence, and a moribund economy, AMLO, as he is known by his countrymen, remains a broadly popular president. Texas Monthly recently caught up with Duncan Wood, director of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute and one of the foremost American experts on Mexico and Mexican politics. We discussed AMLO’s impact on Texas as well as the NAFTA deal, migrant camps along the U.S.-Mexico border, and more. Texas Monthly: To what extent has Texas been affected by the AMLO administration ... more
  • 4 weeks Hollywood, Texas: Live From New York, It’s J.J. Watt Texasmonthly
    Like many an improv comedy hopeful, J.J. Watt has been quietly biding his time on home stages, awaiting his big break—doing some local commercials, picking up the occasional sitcom guest spot, playing defensive end for the Houston Texans, etc. But all of that work finally seems to be paying off. NBC announced this week that Watt will host Saturday Night Live on February 1, a gig that could potentially catapult Watt into a movie career to rival LeBron James’s. After all, Watt’s reels of New Girl cameos and Greek yogurt commercials have revealed that, in addition to his herculean physique and ... more
  • 4 weeks Texas Monthly Recommends: ‘I Want More’ by Kaleo Texasmonthly
    ‘I Want More’ by Kaleo Icelandic rockers Kaleo put down roots in Austin back in early 2015, after a string of breakout SXSW performances helped them ride the double-platinum single “Way Down We Go” to international success and a Grammy nomination. The years after the release of 2016’s A/B were quieter for the band, though—they haven’t released new music or hit the road in more than two years. They performed in their adopted hometown with a show at ACL Live in December, though, and released a pair of singles last week that tease an as-yet-unannounced follow-up album. One of these, ... more
  • 4 weeks Bob Schieffer Remembers Texas Journalist Jim Lehrer (1934-2020) Texasmonthly
    Jim Lehrer, the longtime PBS news anchor and Texan, died Thursday at his home in Washington, D.C., at the age of 85. Lehrer spent much of his childhood in Beaumont and San Antonio, and his journalism career began in Dallas, where he was a newspaper reporter and an editor throughout the sixties. In 1970, he made the jump to television at PBS station KERA in Dallas, where he created a much-lauded local nightly newscast, Newsroom. After moving to Washington, he first teamed up with Robert MacNeil to anchor PBS’s coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings. By 1983, their partnership had ... more
  • 4 weeks Bull Session: Greg Abbott’s Historic Summit With Wesley Snipes Texasmonthly
    Every Thursday, we publish Bull Session, a roundup of the political odds and ends of the week, penning them all into one overstuffed corral.   It’s been an especially busy time for Greg Abbott, who, as the governor of Texas, naturally spent most of his week bouncing between Israel and Switzerland. First, Abbott dropped into Tel Aviv to chat up business leaders about technology opportunities back home, then he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where the two discussed the “unwavering bond between Texas and Israel,” as well as their “enduring friendship” that’s seen them through at least two separate photo ... more
  • 4 weeks BBQ News Roundup: Vegan Barbecue in Houston, 2020 Predictions, and Buck’s Closes in Galveston Texasmonthly
    The newest barbecue joint in Houston is vegan. Houston Sauce Pit’s signature item is a baked potato loaded with smoked “sausage” from Beyond Meat. Steven Raichlen shared his predictions for barbecue in 2020, including the return of charcoal, and lots more vegetables on menus. I bet they’ll be checking pockets for ribs at the Super Bowl: Kansas City guy. pic.twitter.com/bvH4yg6dyc — BBQ Sports (@RealBBQSports) January 19, 2020 The matchup has already played out, but Sports Illustrated gathered a few experts to discuss the differences between the barbecue enjoyed by Kansas City Chiefs fans and Houston Texans fans. Did you know ... more
  • 4 weeks The Galveston Monkey Saga Is the Weirdest Story of 2020 Thus Far Texasmonthly
    2020 will almost certainly be a strange year. The news of the world can be hard to wrap your head around, and headlines these days—especially in an election year—can seem outright unbelievable. Let’s try this one on, for example: “Galveston Police Are Uncertain if an Escaped Monkey Is Alive or Dead After Its Owners Stopped Cooperating With an Investigation.” As KHOU-TV reports, Lilly—a capuchin monkey who had been living as a pet with a family in Galveston’s East End—escaped after someone broke into the home. Initially, the Lilly’s family worked with police to find her, but, in an unlikely twist, ... more
  • 4 weeks Just How Texan Is Fox’s ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’? Texasmonthly
    In the opening scene of Fox’s new Austin-set drama 9-1-1: Lone Star, a security guard at a manure plant accidentally sparks a massive fire by microwaving a foil-wrapped burrito. Shortly after, first responders rush to aid a man choking on a Carolina Reaper pepper that’s been slipped into his taco. And the second episode finds firefighters caught in the middle of two neighbors squabbling over a backyard barbacoa pit. At this point, you may find yourself asking: How the hell did this show capture Texas life so authentically? Did it plant cameras outside my house, near my barbacoa pit? Probably ... more
  • 4 weeks Dining Guide: Highlights From Our February 2020 Issue Texasmonthly
    Texas Monthly adds and updates approximately sixty restaurant listings to our Dining Guide each month. There’s limited space in the print issue, but the entire searchable guide to the best of Texas cuisine is at your fingertips online! Below are a few highlights from the new restaurants reviewed in our February 2020 issue. You can also read up restaurant critic Pat Sharpe’s latest Pat’s Pick, Austin’s Nixta Taqueria. Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant: Austin Rebel Cheese Vegan cheese doesn’t get stringy when it melts—it turns into something more like a cheese spread—but those strings will be the only thing ... more
  • 4 weeks Can a Dallas Ride-Hailing Company Catch Uber? Texasmonthly
    When Will Coleman was deciding where he would stage his bid to compete with Uber and Lyft, he never seriously considered Silicon Valley. Instead, he started searching for office space in Dallas. For starters, it’s Coleman’s hometown. But there was another reason why he picked a city that, despite its burgeoning tech scene, has never produced the sort of sexy start-up “unicorn” he aspired to create. “People from Dallas don’t love to hear this,” Coleman says, “but Dallas is very average.” He’s referring mostly to key factors that ride-hailing companies take into account when considering a market, like traffic congestion, ... more
  • 4 weeks Art Acevedo Can’t Say That, Can He? Texasmonthly
    One of the first times I met Art Acevedo was in April 2017, in southwest Houston. The police chief was speaking on a panel about immigration, and I was in the crowd, half-heartedly live-tweeting coverage for the Houston Chronicle. Midway through an uneventful evening, Acevedo spotted my online snark and started tweeting back at me, discreetly typing responses under the table while still onstage. It seemed like an awfully millennial way to handle the media, but it was also an on-brand move for the 55-year-old, who is far more digitally savvy than most of his peers and always eager to ... more
  • 4 weeks February 2020: Roar of the Crowd Texasmonthly
    Go Go, Boots! The article “The Power of Boots” [December 2019] spoke to me, and I was so excited to see Sandra Cisneros on the cover wearing vintage cowboy boots. My love of boots dates back to my childhood in South Texas. I admired the boots my great-uncles wore at the ranch and for “Sunday best” outings. I moved to the Midwest in 1996 and got rid of my boots—leather soles are no bueno on ice and snow—but in 2014, my husband and I bought a second home in San Antonio. I started collecting cowboy boots, which I display in ... more
  • 4 weeks Michael Lind Wants to Put America Back Together Texasmonthly
    Michael Lind, the author of The New Class War: Saving Democracy From the Managerial Elite (Portfolio/Penguin Random House), has a theory about what’s ailing democracy in the United States and Western Europe. Over the past half century, he asserts, institutions like churches, unions, and civic organizations, which helped mediate between what he calls the professional managerial overclass and the working class, have eroded, leaving everyone polarized, angry, and worse off. He has a theory about what will fix it all too: rebuilding those institutions, as part of a system he calls democratic pluralism. A graduate of the University of Texas ... more
  • 4 weeks Texas A&M Slaps Back at Harvard Critics of Its Beef-Industry-Backed Research Texasmonthly
    Since last fall Texas A&M University has found itself embroiled in a controversy that has shined a light on the messy, conflict-riven business of scientists accepting funding from organizations with vested interests in the outcome of their research. Now Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp has entered the fray, firing back forcefully at claims made by two Harvard University professors that A&M research isn’t to be trusted because it has been partially funded by the beef industry. This morning, Sharp sent a letter to Harvard president Lawrence Bacow in which he decried the “outrageous actions” of Harvard doctors and nutrition experts ... more
  • 5 months From the Editor, October 2019 Texasmonthly
    William Faulkner famously wrote that the past is never dead; it’s not even past. And that’s at least as true in Texas as in the author’s native Mississippi. Texans have long argued over whether Travis and Crockett and Bowie were defending Texas independence or slavery, and whether Comanche raids on white settlers were any more savage than the slaughter of Mexicano Texans by certain bands of Texas Rangers. Such debates are very much in the news, as Confederate monuments fall and textbooks are rewritten to take into account newly discovered documents and previously overlooked figures, especially women and people of ... more
  • 5 months Fort Worth’s Gemelle Showcases Love, Italian Style! Texasmonthly
    The romantic mythology surrounding Texas cowboys and cattle drives is the gift that keeps on giving—and giving and giving—and few people know that better than Fort Worth chef Tim Love. From his steak, wild-game, and seafood flagship, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro (named, of course, in honor of Larry McMurtry’s sprawling novel), to White Elephant Saloon and Woodshed Smokehouse—to cite only three of his major concepts in two states—the Denton-born Love has found the epic of Texas rewarding in every sense of the word. But not long ago, after more than three decades in the business and on the verge of ... more
  • 5 months ‘Big Wonderful Thing’ Excerpt: “Sediciosos” Texasmonthly
    The graves of Jesus Bazán and his son-in-law Antonio Longoria are located in a small family cemetery in northwestern Hidalgo County, deep in South Texas, close to the Mexican border. There is a modern farm-to-market road nearby, but the graves were dug many years ago at the edge of an older, unpaved road no longer in use. Jesus Bazán was 67 when he died on a September day in 1915. His son-in-law was 48. He died the same day. Their tombstones give no account about what happened to them, only the word “Murió”—“Died.” But no doubt there were friends and ... more
  • 5 months ‘Big Wonderful Thing’ Excerpt: “Savage Ware Fare” Texasmonthly
    “Matilda!” A man named Andrew Lockhart yelled above the chaos of an attack on a Comanche village. “If you are here, run to me!” From inside one of the lodges, fourteen-year-old Matilda Lockhart heard her father’s voice. She screamed back as loud as she could to let him know she was in the camp with the Indians who had captured her, but he couldn’t hear her above the noise of musket fire and the barking of dogs and the terrified shrieks of women and children. This happened in the winter of 1839 somewhere along the San Saba River. The attackers ... more
  • 5 months ‘Big Wonderful Thing’ Excerpt: “Reason Had Left Its Throne” Texasmonthly
    Texas seceded from the Union in early February of 1861 and joined the Confederacy that March, less than a month before the bombardment of Fort Sumter that began the Civil War. But the embrace of secession and of the Confederacy was far from monolithic in Texas. About a third of the state’s residents, after all, were enslaved. And in parts of Texas, in those counties that had voted against secession, Unionist sentiment could be strong. In the little Hill Country town of Comfort, about fifty miles northwest of San Antonio, a lonely limestone obelisk sits in a patch of parkland ... more
  • 5 months Américo Paredes vs. J. Frank Dobie Texasmonthly
    Américo Paredes didn’t look like an insurrectionist. Raised to be modest, formal, and genteel in public demeanor, he was always impeccably groomed and well-appointed in suit and tie and glossy, black-framed glasses. He looked more like a bank clerk than a man bent on taking aim at the reputation of Texas’s most esteemed writer. Born in Brownsville in 1915, Paredes was the descendant of an old Mexican family with Spanish Sephardic roots that had migrated to New Spain in the late sixteenth century and was part of the expeditions led by José de Escandón that settled such towns as Mier, ... more
  • 5 months The Battle to Rewrite Texas History Texasmonthly
    On the mild, cloudy day of April 14, 2015, exactly 150 years and five days after Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army at a courthouse in Virginia, an unusual spectacle took place in a committee room inside the Texas Capitol, the grounds of which are adorned with towering monuments and paeans to the slave empire’s army. A thirteen-year-old middle school student from Austin named Jacob Hale was defending a bill, drafted by him and given to his state representative, that would correct what he regarded as a grievous mistake: The state of Texas celebrates a holiday ... more
  • 5 months Nurdles All the Way Down Texasmonthly
    One windy winter morning in 2009, a retired shrimp boat captain named Diane Wilson pulled her red Chevy pickup into the parking lot of the Hideout, a metal box of a bar on the outskirts of Rockport. A self-identified “eco-outlaw” and fourth-generation Gulf Coaster, Wilson had spent the previous two decades fighting what she calls a “Diane-versus-Goliath” battle to prevent chemical plants and refineries from polluting the bays that her family has fished, shrimped, crabbed, and oystered for over a century. The week before, Wilson had gotten a call from Dale Jurasek, a former wastewater operator at the Formosa Plastics ... more
  • 5 months The Hunt for the Serial Killer of Laredo Texasmonthly
    He first began frequenting San Bernardo Avenue, in the border city of Laredo, in the late spring of 2018. He was in his mid-thirties, a strapping man, at least six feet tall and two hundred pounds. His black hair was neatly trimmed on top and shaved on the sides, like a military cut, and he had a stubble beard. He drove a white 2015 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup that always appeared to be freshly detailed. He usually showed up after dark, slowing as he came to the four-block section of San Bernardo a couple of miles north of downtown that many ... more
  • 5 months Midland Rolls With the Punches Texasmonthly
    Midland couldn’t give less of a shit about whether you think they’re country enough—they know they’re the real deal.  Since releasing their hit song “Drinkin’ Problem” in 2016, the Texas trio has racked up a certified platinum single, released an album that debuted at number one on the Billboard Country Albums chart, and snagged a Grammy nomination along the way. They’ve made a name for themselves by carving out a space in the country genre where custom rhinestone suits and Southern rock harmonies are back in style. Even Diplo’s taken a page from Midland’s book, using bassist Cameron Duddy’s custom ... more
  • 5 months The James Beard Awards Recognize Texas Culinary Independence Texasmonthly
    It’s shaping up as a red-letter year for Texas restaurants. Back in May, Food & Wine put two Texans on its list of the best new chefs in the country. Last week, Bon Appétit included four Texas spots among its selection of the top fifty new restaurants, and it named Dallas its “restaurant city of the year.” But, wait, that’s not all. Today, Bon Appétit released its Hot Ten list (i.e., the best of the top fifty), and a Dallas restaurant, tiny Cambodian-oriented Khao Noodle Shop, took the number two spot. Clearly the Texas culinary scene has arrived, so much ... more
  • 5 months Why Julián Castro Should Stay in the Presidential Race Texasmonthly
    As Julián Castro celebrated his 45th birthday alongside brother Joaquin at an event center in San Antonio on Monday, there was a lot weighing on his mind. Castro continues to look like an also-ran in national polling and ranks fourteenth in fundraising among the Democratic party’s presidential contenders, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings. He has only about $1 million on hand, far less than fundraising leader Bernie Sanders’s $27 million. Then last week, following a third Democratic presidential debate in Houston, he was widely criticized as mocking the age of Joe Biden. This has led some party ... more
  • 5 months Migrants Stuck in Squalid Mexican Tent Camps Begin Asylum Process Texasmonthly
    At their first court appearance in the United States, the Zavaletas—a family of three from Guatemala—had a simple request for immigration judge Daniel Gilbert. “Is there any way we could stay in this country so we can hire a lawyer?” asked Eric Zavaleta, the father. “Over there [in Mexico], we’re living on the streets and can’t find one.” Gilbert paused after listening to the impassioned plea and then said, “I don’t have the authority to grant that request.” The exchange underscored the dilemma facing migrants stuck in Matamoros under the Trump administration’s widening Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which require asylum ... more
  • 5 months The Making of An Urbane Cowboy Texasmonthly
    The late singer and songwriter Lee Hazlewood loved to tell stories, and some of them were almost certainly true. Take the one about how he wrote his best-known song. It was 1965, and the then-36-year-old Hazlewood was living in Los Angeles, where he had made his name as a producer and songwriter of hits for the likes of Duane Eddy, Dean Martin, and Dino, Desi, & Billy. According to Hazlewood, he had recently been visiting Port Neches, Texas, where he had gone to high school, to spend time with family. He went to a club in nearby Port Arthur called ... more
  • 5 months Ken Burns Talks Waylon, Willie, and How Texas Defined Country Music Texasmonthly
    Ken Burns has told stories about the most important parts of American life. His eleven-hour documentary The Civil War is the definitive film on the subject; Baseball, clocking in at eighteen and a half hours, tells the full story of America’s pastime. His work treats life and death events like the wars that shaped our nation and the cultural phenomena that define who we are as people as equally important, and equally deserving of our time and attention. The latest cultural force to come under Burns’s historian lens is country music, in an eight-part documentary of the same name that’s airing on PBS from now ... more
  • 5 months Kimberly King Parsons: “Maybe We Call What I Do Queer Psychedelic Texas Fiction?” Texasmonthly
    Subscribe Apple — Google Play — Stitcher — Spotify With its release last month, Kimberly King Parsons’ short-story collection Black Light went from being one of the year’s most-anticipated literary debuts to being one of the year’s best-reviewed literary debuts. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “Occasionally a debut collection lands with such a wet, happy thud that you immediately start imagining the rest of the writer’s long career.” Indeed, Black Light is really just a set-up for Parsons’ debut novel, which she’s completing now for release next year and says is about the intersection of Texas, motherhood, and LSD. Parsons, who was born ... more
  • 5 months The Texanist: The ‘Nub’ of a Corny Dog Is Good Eatin’, Right? Texasmonthly
    Q: My wife and I have an ongoing debate regarding the corn dog “nub” that is left on the stick when you finish eating a corn dog. I think it’s the best part and tell her it wouldn’t be Texan to not eat it, while she says it is trash. Who is correct? And what is that thing really called anyway?  Aaron Haley, Austin A: Thanks for the letter, Mr. Haley. There are few things the Texanist enjoys more than jumping into the middle of an ongoing “debate” between a couple he’s never met before. One might think that a ... more
  • 5 months The Best Thing in Texas: The Eleven-Year-Old Designer Showcasing at New York Fashion Week Texasmonthly
    WHO: Jayden Allyn Washer WHAT: The young designer is unveiling several of his pieces at New York Fashion Week. WHY IT’S SO GREAT: The Alief-based Washer learned to sew at the age of seven. What’s more impressive is that just four years later, the eleven-year-old is showcasing floor-length gowns and dresses he brought to life at the Fashion Insitute’s Finest Independent Designer event, a high-profile showcase during New York Fashion Week. His designs are reminiscent of the Hollywood glam era, with dresses named after sartorial icons like Aubrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.  Typically, designers are locked in at least six ... more
  • 5 months Legends of the Fall Texasmonthly
    I don’t know about you, but I am deeply envious of all those wistful end-of-summer photos that recently turned up on my Instagram feed. You probably know what I’m talking about—that last sail on the blue waters off the Cape, or the final sunset in the Hamptons, or that last hike in the Tetons or the Rockies, the one requiring long pants and a fleece windbreaker. There were photos of last “cookouts” around the charcoal grill—and no one is sweating. I understand why the arrival of Labor Day is a bittersweet time in other parts of the country, signaling as ... more
  • 5 months Thursday Night Lights: Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro Fight for Relevancy at the Houston Debate Texasmonthly
    Texas may well be a place to watch in the 2020 election. But the two Texans in the race, Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke, have struggled to stay in the running, to the disappointment of many Democrats here. The debate at Texas Southern University in Houston on Thursday night, the first of the race to feature all major candidates on stage together, was an opportunity to break through on home turf. Or at least, that was the pre-debate narrative. Commentators love to crown winners and losers in these things, and at the end of the night, the consensus seemed to ... more
  • 5 months The Six Texas Politicians Addicted to Twitter—For Better or Worse Texasmonthly
    Perhaps because the president has transformed Twitter from a forum for trading memes and petty personal grievances into a place where memes and petty personal grievances become de facto executive orders, officeholders of the Trump era can’t help but descend into the social media muck. This is true despite the fact that, relatively speaking, hardly anyone is on Twitter: Only about 22 percent of U.S. adults use the platform, according to a 2019 Pew Research study. As vices go, that makes it just slightly more popular than smoking. Yet because the media and political beasts comprise an outsized proportion of that ... more
  • 5 months Smoke-A-Holics BBQ Is Helping to Revitalize Southeast Fort Worth Texasmonthly
    After five years of socking away extra cash, all Kesha Walker wanted was a new house. She and her husband Derrick had been working full-time jobs and hustling on the weekends inside a sweltering barbecue food truck. “We already had a realtor, a leasing agent, we had our money put up. We had everything ready to buy a house,” Derrick said, but Kesha had a change of heart. She insisted they put their original plan on the back burner so the couple could instead buy a barbecue joint.  “I knew this was his dream. There was just something in me. ... more
  • 5 months The Trump Administration Is Blocking the Public from Attending Asylum Hearings in Brownsville Texasmonthly
    On Thursday, just half a block from the “Welcome to the United States of America” sign that greets people entering Brownsville via the international bridge, two Department of Homeland Security agents guarded a chain-link gate.  Unfolding behind the gate is a new experiment launched in South Texas this week by the Trump administration that targets the stream of asylum-seeking migrants from Central America. First started in the El Paso Border Patrol sector, the controversial Migrant Protection Protocols, better-known as “Return to Mexico,” are now underway in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo sectors. Under MPP, once migrants seek asylum, they ... more
  • 5 months Paul Cauthen’s ‘Room 41’ Resides In Between Vulnerability and Swagger Texasmonthly
    Tucked inside the lobby of Dallas’s Belmont Hotel is a pearly white Essex piano. On the instrument’s top left corner, a small picture frame contains the italicized words “amateurs please refrain.” Guests typically just walk past it on their way towards the shaded patio, or the quaint corner bar directly across from it.  But for nearly two years, the rising country songwriter Paul Cauthen has used this particular piano as a launching point for his distinctive songs. Cauthen called the sprawling Belmont campus home for those years—specifically a second-story roost known as Room 41, located on a hill. He’d moved ... more
  • 5 months The Highwomen Are the Best Thing in Country Right Now Texasmonthly
    It’s been a helluva long time since country music’s been this exciting.  For the first time in its 52-year history, the Country Music Awards will be hosted by multiple women; the biggest, and most controversial country song in recent memory was recorded by a queer black Twitter superstar; and this month, with the release of their debut album, the Highwomen are taking on Nashville’s boys’ club.  It’s no secret that women in country music have been facing an uphill battle for years. Loretta Lynn was famously banned from country radio for “The Pill,” her ode to birth control and female ... more
  • 5 months Boone Pickens Was a Helluva Storyteller—and That’s Why We Couldn’t Resist Him Texasmonthly
    In 2008, when I got the chance to meet T. Boone Pickens for the first time—he had just turned eighty and was on a “crusade to build wind energy farms and get Americans into natural gas-fueled cars—I was so stunned at his old-fashioned storytelling ability and his rustic sense of humor that I went straight home, called one of Pickens’ closest friends, and asked if the oilman was for real. “I think he was putting me on with some well-rehearsed act,” I said. “Nope,” said Pickens’ friend. “He acts like a character out of a movie,” I insisted. I looked ... more
  • 5 months Churchy Chicken: Why the Religious Right Won’t Stop Talking About Chick-fil-A Texasmonthly
    The defense of western civilization requires a high-calorie diet, so as I near the site of the Texas Faith, Family & Freedom Forum, an evangelical policy conference and pep rally, I detour to a nearby Chick-fil-A. Having missed the cutoff for breakfast, I settle for a spicy chicken sandwich. Two employees are directing traffic in front of the three drive-through lanes, like soldiers at the portcullis of a crusader castle. This is an outpost of order in a chaotic world, and these men and women are its sentinels. My pleasure, each one says in turn, as the chicken makes its ... more
  • 5 months The Texas Roadside Photographer Who Finds Beauty in the Banal Texasmonthly
    Texans have an insatiable thirst for the photos of (you guessed it) Texas. Lucky for us, we’re living in a golden age of Lone Star imagery. Just look at Instagram, where many of the state’s most celebrated photographers supply us with unending streams of boundless vistas, open roads, big skies, and Longhorn cattle wandering in splashy fields of wildflowers. I’m here for all of them. Crank up the saturation, click upload, and feed those scenes from the High Plains and “Abandoned East Texas”straight into my veins. Photographer Trent Lesikar is traveling down a different road altogether. In his ongoing project The ... more
  • 5 months Dallas Is Bon Appétit’s Restaurant City of the Year Texasmonthly
    Bon Appétit’s infatuation with Texas has reached a delicious new level. Today the national food magazine named Dallas its 2019 “restaurant city of the year.” This recognition comes just two days after it announced that four Texas restaurants had made the list of fifty nominees for its forthcoming Hot 10 list, including two in Dallas. In its story, Bon Appétit writes, “From the rich bowls of boat noodles to the crazy charcuterie boards to the spicy strawberry sotol, one thing is clear: Texas’ oft-skipped food destination is no longer skippable. . . . today, the city’s in the midst of a renaissance, with ... more
  • 5 months Remembering T. Boone Pickens, the “Aw-Shucks” Billionaire Texasmonthly
    When T. Boone Pickens graduated with a geology degree from Oklahoma State, in 1951, his father, Thomas Boone Pickens, told him that “a fool with a plan beats a genius with no plan every time. My problem is, you’re no genius, and you got no plan.” As it turned out, the elder Mr. Pickens was wrong. His son, the famed oilman and corporate raider who died today at the age of 91, was, in fact, a genius of sorts. In the spring of 2016 I stopped by Pickens’s Dallas office to interview him for a book I was writing. Pickens ... more
  • 5 months Daniel Johnston Will Live On In Ways Few Artists Get To Texasmonthly
    There aren’t many people who wrote sadder songs than Daniel Johnston did. Or weirder songs. Or funnier ones. Johnston became famous in that Austin-in-the-early-’90s way that Richard Linklater, the Butthole Surfers, and other fixtures of the city’s transition from sleepy college town to the creative hub for this part of the country did because of those songs. He used to pass them out on cassette tapes he made to customers at the McDonald’s he worked at, and as his local fame grew, he’d sell them at Waterloo Records or the long-departed Sound Exchange, trading artwork out of the similarly-departed comic ... more
  • 5 months Why Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” Is 100% Deserving of a Grammy Nomination Texasmonthly
    You’ve heard “Truth Hurts.” That’s a near certainty, unless you haven’t turned on a radio or browsed social media this year. The song, by Houston-raised singer/rapper/flautist Lizzo, originally dropped in 2017 as a stand-alone single. Yet because it also appears on the deluxe version of her 2019 album Cuz I Love You—and thanks to a recent surge in popularity—there’s a possibility “Truth Hurts” could notch a 2020 Grammy nomination for Song of the Year despite its past release date. Now that the Grammy’s tricky eligibility requirements have deemed it a worthy contender, we’ll have to wait until November 20 to see ... more
  • 5 months ‘Bon Appétit’ Names Four Texas Restaurants to Its Annual Top 50 List Texasmonthly
    Bon Appétit magazine has just planted a Texas-sized smooch on our culinary scene. Four restaurants in the Lone Star State appear among fifty nominees for the best new restaurants in the country. The list, revealed Tuesday, precedes the magazine’s final choices for the “Hot 10,” to be announced on September 17. The Texas selections were decidedly on the casual side—as were many of the others nationwide—a trend that has been holding true for “best restaurant” lists in many publications at least during the last two years. Getting the nod, in alphabetical order, are Blood Bros. BBQ, described as having “stellar Texas ’cue ... more
  • 5 months A Barbecue Editor and a Taco Editor Walk Into a Taqueria…. Texasmonthly
    If you asked Texans about their favorite foods, barbecue and tacos would probably be at the top of the list (sorry, chili). As the Barbecue Editor, I’ve been covering the barbecue explosion in Texas for more than six years, and I’m happy to welcome another food specialist to the Texas Monthly team. I’ve often described José R. Ralat as my counterpart in the world of tacos, so it’s fitting that he’s joining the staff as our Taco Editor—he’s one of five new staffers we announced on Tuesday. José has written about tacos extensively since he began his Taco Trail column ... more
  • 5 months From Obscure Web Developer to Trump Campaign Manager: The Inside Story of Brad Parscale’s Unlikely Rise Texasmonthly
    On the evening of May 30, Brad Parscale, the campaign manager of Donald J. Trump for President Inc., gave a speech to a gathering of the faithful. Parscale is a striking figure: six foot eight, with a Viking beard and a penchant for bombast. He was a phenom of the 2016 election, rising, in a matter of months, from an anonymous web designer in San Antonio to the Trump campaign’s reputed digital savior. He has become a frequent warmup act at Trump rallies and a prized attraction in GOP fund-raising circles. On this occasion, he was speaking to the Miami ... more
  • 5 months Resurrecting ‘Stories That Must Not Die,’ A Chilling, Seminal Collection of South Texas Folklore Texasmonthly
    It’s a deep, midnight-colored October evening in 1992. The first chill of autumn has arrived in Harlingen, bringing a reprieve from the summer heat that has lingered too long. Eight-year-old me pulls a dog-eared paperback from my backpack and I turn on the bedside lamp. The book’s edges have yellowed, but the pages inside remain creamy white. Flipping through it, I can smell decades of history—its stories told countless times on cool concrete porches or warm wooden rockers or over coffee-stained kitchen tables. I read the title out loud—Stories That Must Not Die. Ask anyone who went to elementary school in South ... more
  • 5 months Can the 2019 Houston Astros Break the 1,000 Run Barrier? Texasmonthly
    The Astros have been on a ridiculous scoring run over the past month and a half, particularly with their past couple of games—21 runs on Sunday, then another 15 on Monday. Averaging 18 runs a game isn’t sustainable, obviously, but these two aren’t outliers: The Astros scored 11 runs in a game against the Mariners last week, and in August they had games where they scored 15 against the Rays, 11 against the Angels, 14 against the Rockies, a ridiculous (and team record) 23 against the Orioles. All told, the Astros have averaged nearly 8 runs a game since the ... more
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