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  • 5 months Midland Finally Has Destination Barbecue at Up in Smoke BBQ Co. Texasmonthly
    It’s the best of times and the worst of times for any new barbecue joint in Midland. Oil and gas are still revving the region’s economic engine and ensuring plenty of hungry customers. But any business not affiliated with the city’s biggest industry is a lower priority for city permits and inspections, as Junior Urias discovered when he was building Up in Smoke BBQ Co. from the ground up. He negotiated $10,000 off the cost of a water tap on the property, and that didn’t cover even half the fee. The review process lagged during construction, though he finally opened ... more
  • 5 months Recipe: Instant Pot Dr Pepper Chipotle Ribs Texasmonthly
    Dr Pepper and chipotle are an obvious match for ribs. The deep, plummy caramel of the soda and the smoky spice of the chile just need a hit of acid to become a unique, yet oh-so-familiar,  barbecue-style sauce for pork ribs. I’m not the first to slather these Texas-favorite ingredients on a rack—a quick online search will yield dozens of recipes. But those recipes often require hours of braising or slow cooking in the oven before you can even think of hitting the grill. Enter the Instant Pot. By braising the ribs under pressure, you can cut a process usually ... more
  • 5 months Founded by Two Texans, the Mom 2.0 Summit Is Serious Business Texasmonthly
    The welcome panel of the sold-out Mom 2.0 Summit, which came to Austin for the first time last week, was packed. The session was aimed at first-timers to the eleventh annual three-day conference, but judging from all the raised hands when the moderator asked who had brand sponsors for their Instagram accounts, blogs, or YouTube videos, most of the women in the room were far from social media rookies. In a generous tone that was part parent support group/part business think tank, the high-energy moderator invited us to approach Mom 2.0 with “an abundance mindset,” to be elevator pitch-ready for the ... more
  • 5 months If You’re Looking for Dan Patrick This Legislative Session, You Might Find Him on Fox News Texasmonthly
    Once upon a time, the Texas Senate was Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s whole world. His turbulent 2014 campaign for the post was a radical change in Texas politics, the tea party revolution taking the throne. In his inauguration speech he proclaimed that his arrival marked “a new day in Texas.” One of his first acts in office as president of the Senate was changing the upper chamber’s rules to give the majority party more power, so as to better push through his priorities. In the opening weeks of his first session, he made committee appointments in record time and repeatedly ... more
  • 5 months Grupo Fantasma on Their Latest Album and Being Pigeonholed As “Latin Music” Texasmonthly
    For nearly twenty years, the founding members of Grupo Fantasma have set themselves apart with the quality and inventiveness of their work. It’s a rare enough feat to successfully run a big group (the current Fantasma lineup is nine musicians deep), but on top of that they’ve also branched out to create additional bands Brownout and Money Chicha. Each of these projects is as interesting as the one preceding it. Members have cycled through Grupo Fantasma over the years, but Beto Martinez and Greg Gonzalez have been mainstays. In March, the band released its first record in five years, American ... more
  • 5 months Wherever the NFL Takes Him, Ed Oliver Will Always “Be Someone” in Houston Texasmonthly
    Ever since it first appeared on a Union Pacific railway trestle over Interstate 45 seven years ago, the huge, bold, and blue “Be Someone” graffito has served as a beacon of hope for the tens of thousands of 9-to-5-working Houstonians who trudge past it, often well below posted speed limits thanks to godawful traffic, on their way to work downtown. Last year, a petition called for the legitimization of “Be Someone”—technically illegal street art—by granting it official status as a protected landmark. If that proposal had been put to a popular vote, it would have won in a landslide. ... more
  • 5 months UT Chancellor James B. Milliken: “Higher Education Is More Important Now Than It’s Ever Been in the History of the World” Texasmonthly
    Subscribe Apple — Google Play — Stitcher — Spotify This week’s National Podcast of Texas features James B. Milliken, who was named chancellor of the University of Texas system in September 2018. Milliken came to the fourteen-institution Texas system after a four-year run as chancellor of the City University of New York. Before that, the native Nebraskan served as president of the University of Nebraska system. Almost immediately after Milliken started the University of Texas system job, an internal task force report recommended the elimination of up to 110 full-time positions on the system administration level. In January, Milliken announced the first round ... more
  • 5 months H-E-B Runs the Best Barbecue Chain in Texas Texasmonthly
    The best statewide barbecue chain in Texas is housed inside grocery stores. With ten locations of True Texas BBQ and counting, H-E-B is opening its version of a neighborhood barbecue joint from Magnolia to Midland. They’re making sides and desserts from scratch, smoking all-natural meats on site every day, and serving it all in a restaurant setting with local beers on tap. I was tricked into my first visit to a True Texas BBQ. After striking out during a barbecue search in Midland, I pulled up Google Maps on my phone. “BBQ near me” in the search bar yielded a ... more
  • 5 months The Texanist: Is the “Big Texas Sky” Really All That Big? Texasmonthly
    Q: Texans who live outside of Texas always talk about how much they miss the “big Texas sky.” But what makes the sky in Texas bigger than the sky anyplace else? Is our sky any bigger than the one people in, say, Iowa gawk at? I don’t think so. And yet I’m pretty sure that Iowans don’t go on and on about the “big Iowa sky.” The same goes for folks from other states, as well. So what’s the deal? Why do Texans think the sky in Texas is so darn big? Andrew Belur, Austin A: Thanks for all the ... more
  • 5 months The New Taylor Swift Video Teases a Possible Dixie Chicks Collaboration Texasmonthly
    Late Thursday night, Taylor Swift released “ME!,” her first new single since her 2017 album Reputation. So far it’s, uh, divisive, to say the least. (Great outfits in the video! Why the dolphin screeches in the chorus? We’ve waited two years, and all she’s got for us is a song that sounds like a Katy Perry b-side?) But we’ll let others debate the relative vapidity of T. Swift’s current direction. We’re focused on the evidence that she’s got a Dixie Chicks collaboration in the offing. Here’s what we know: Early in “ME!,” Swift sings, “There’s a lot of cool chicks out ... more
  • 5 months Texas Monthly Recommends: Maren Morris’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Song Texasmonthly
    Maren Morris sings For the Throne Like seemingly everyone I know, I’ve got Game of Thrones fever (really worried about Grey Worm and Brienne this week, y’all), but I didn’t know I needed a reverb-drenched, minor-key exploration of the loneliness one finds in Westeros until I heard Maren Morris’s Thrones-inspired “Kingdom of One” this week. The song comes to us from the For the Throne compilation album HBO commissioned to accompany the series’ eighth and final season (which also features fellow Texan Travis Scott on the track “Power is Power”). In addition to speaking to the pain one might find ... more
  • 5 months Behind Every Painting, a Desperate Child: The “Uncaged Art” of Tornillo’s Detained Migrant Children Texasmonthly
    When a local priest called University of Texas-El Paso history professors Yolanda Leyva and David Romo this past winter, asking if they wanted to showcase art created by children in the Tornillo immigration detention center, they jumped at the opportunity. The pair had co-founded Museo Urbano, a roving “museum without walls” in traditional and nontraditional spaces, to showcase borderland history, and these works fit squarely into their mission. They were also curious, as historians, what these pieces might have in common with art created by other children similarly held in captivity. What themes might emerge? Earlier this month, Uncaged Art: Tornillo ... more
  • 5 months The Best Thing in Texas: An Escaped Kangaroo Takes a Wimberley Walkabout Texasmonthly
    WHO: A kangaroo who lives in Wimberley WHAT: This escaped fugitive remains at large in the Hill Country WHY IT’S SO GREAT: On Wednesday afternoon, consternation spread through Wimberley after a kangaroo went AWOL from Trails End Ranch, an exotic wildlife ranch on the town’s outskirts. At first the Hays County Constable’s Office struggled to determine whether the calls they were receiving about the creature  were pranks. But after several reports from residents who’d spotted it in their yards, officials were forced to reckon with the truth: There was, indeed, a marsupial on the loose. A neighborhood Facebook post spread the word, urging anyone in ... more
  • 5 months Dressing Down Parents at Houston’s Madison High School Texasmonthly
    Earlier this month, the principal of James Madison High School, in Houston, Carlotta Outley Brown, sent out a directive to parents. Any parent wearing revealing and/or slovenly attire would be banned from entering the school, and in some cases, prohibited from so much as setting foot on school premises. Items banned from the building include shower caps, hair rollers, bonnets, satin caps (a.k.a. “Do-rags,” or “durags,” in the parlance of Solange and the New York Times), house shoes, undershirts (for men), and pajamas, or anything that could be construed as such, a topic on which the directive casts a wide ... more
  • 5 months Enjoy Houston’s Intoxicating Jasmine Air While You Can Texasmonthly
    “This is the best time of year to sell a house in Houston,” confessed my friend Cliff, the high-end realtor, and he wasn’t talking about the weather. On this early evening in late April, we were strolling by a thick hedge of blooming jasmine, the aroma of hundreds of star-like miniature white flowers making us forget, momentarily, any and all troubles. Few would argue that spring isn’t the best season in Houston. We don’t have a fall, and winters are all too brief and rainy. And then there is the hell that rages from, some would say, mid-June until the ... more
  • 5 months ‘I’m in Danger’: Migrant Parents Face Violence in Mexico Under New Trump Policy Texasmonthly
    On a chilly morning in mid-April, two Central American families piled out of an Uber and joined the long line of pedestrians waiting to cross the Paso del Norte Bridge from Ciudad Juárez into El Paso. Other folks in line were on their way to school, work, or errands in El Paso—the everyday stuff of binational cities. But these two families—each with a father, pregnant mother, and child—had a different destination: U.S. immigration court. The day before, the two young fathers, Edwin Escobar from El Salvador and Ronaldo Garcia from Guatemala, said that after leaving their church shelter for food, ... more
  • 5 months This West Texas Gender Reveal Party Is Mesmerizingly Bizarre Texasmonthly
    Gender reveal parties are a 21st-century curiosity. On the one hand, they’re social events that provide expectant parents Facebook- and Instagram-ready opportunities to celebrate the happy milestone of bringing a baby into the world with friends and family. On the other hand, they often perpetuate outdated social stereotypes of gender (will the cake be pink or blue once you cut it?), to say nothing of the implications for transgender and gender queer people in limiting identity to a binary proposition. Yet publicly broadcasting gender reveals has become a cultural tradition for a certain segment of the population, with the number ... more
  • 5 months Otherworldly Singer-Songwriter Chrysta Bell Returns to Texas Texasmonthly
    Among Chrysta Bell’s many eccentricities is the origin of her name. As the 41-year-old singer-songwriter tells it, her mother had discovered the nineteenth-century English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s haunting ballad “Christabel” while in high school and was drawn to its story of a devout girl who forges a mysterious bond with a beguiling demon. Years later, when the singer’s mother was pregnant, she heard a voice from her womb instruct her to christen the child after Coleridge’s benighted heroine. Chrysta Bell, her mother claims, had named herself. In light of this supernatural provenance, it’s appropriate that Chrysta Bell—she goes by ... more
  • 5 months From the Horse’s Mouth, May 2019 Texasmonthly
    We’ve got ourselves a big state to cover here at Texas Monthly. But that task sometimes requires us to trace the threads of narratives that extend far outside our borders. Consider this month’s feature “Sabika’s Story,” timed to the first anniversary of the shootings at Santa Fe High School, just south of Houston. When our staff discussed how we might learn more about that tragic day, features director J. K. Nickell suggested we inquire about Sabika Sheikh, a Muslim exchange student from Pakistan who was one of the victims. Executive editor Skip Hollandsworth then discovered a compelling angle on the story, ... more
  • 5 months May 2019: Roar of the Crowd Texasmonthly
    We publish reader letters in every issue of Texas Monthly. Below is feedback for our March 2019 issue. Have something to tell us? You can write to us here. To Beaver . . .  My aunt Maureen sent me your Buc-ee’s article [“Buc-ee’s Goes Big,” March 2019]. The “cult” of Buc-ee’s caught my eye, because it truly has a cult following in our family. This past month my aunt and uncle drove down to escape the Chicago temperatures, and they teased me with selfies in front of the bronze Buc-ee. So of course I then put my order in for ... more
  • 5 months Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ Changed My Mind About Grass-Fed Brisket Texasmonthly
    The first time I tried a smoked grass-fed brisket, I hated it. At a 2010 barbecue competition in Dallas where all the brisket entries were from purely grass-fed cattle, I told the Dallas Observer, “This form of sustainable meat just isn’t conducive to good barbecue.” I’ve been hoping to be proven wrong ever since. Thanks to the new grass-fed brisket at Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ in Dallas, I finally got that chance. Doug Pickering, co-owner and pitmaster at Ferris Wheelers, first tested grass-fed briskets a few months back. His meat supplier sent him prime-grade briskets from Grass Run Farms, and ... more
  • 5 months Dining Guide: Highlights From Our May 2019 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 this month. In case you missed it, restaurant critic Patricia Sharpe’s 2019 list of Texas’s Best New Restaurants came out in our March issue, and you can also read up on her latest Pat’s Pick, on Houston’s Mastrantos, here. Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant: Frisco Bubba’s Cooks Country For over thirty years, Dallasites ... more
  • 5 months How Animal Psychics Helped Untangle a Mixed-up Horse Texasmonthly
    I had a hint something was up when we retrieved our four-year-old mare from the trainer’s place. I don’t bounce well enough to saddle-break a horse, and our teenage son, Huck, needed more guidance to get the job done, so she’d been sent to the trainer. After a round of small talk, we asked him about Wichita’s sixty days of schooling under saddle. The trainer seemed to weigh how to say something diplomatically. “She’s a lot of horse,” he said. We watched as he put Wichita through her paces. He’s a kind, skilled man, and she’d learned quite a bit ... more
  • 5 months The Ethan Hawkaissance Continues in ‘Stockholm’ Texasmonthly
    How is it that Ethan Hawke and Matthew McConaughey have only ever appeared together in one movie, more than twenty years ago? (It was 1998’s The Newton Boys.) They’re both Texas-born actors in their late forties with leading-man good looks who owe some measure of their success to repeated collaborations with Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater. Both also have sometimes accepted paycheck-cashing roles in bad films that have somewhat depressed their maximum movie-star potential. But McConaughey pulled off the fabled “McConaissance” of 2011–14, during which he parlayed a string of respectable lead roles and outstanding supporting parts—starting with The Lincoln Lawyer, continuing with Bernie, Magic ... more
  • 5 months Brandon Maxwell on ‘Project Runway,’ Texas Women, and First Ladies Texasmonthly
    Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle, and Lady Gaga wear his dresses, and he’s a nominee for the Womenswear Designer of the Year, to be announced in June by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. But for Brandon Maxwell, who is starring as a judge on Project Runway, it all began in Longview. He fell in love with fashion as a child while watching his grandmother Louise Johnson help dress stylish East Texas women at a high-end store called Riff’s. His Texas roots are a crucial part of the narrative that informs his work. He spent more than a month in ... more
  • 5 months The Psychedelic State of South Texas Texasmonthly
    Fernando A. Flores’s first novel, Tears of the Trufflepig, may be a unique take on the U.S.-Mexico border region, but he is still an old-school writer in at least one sense: he does not own a computer. Flores, 36, has decorated a wall of his Austin home office with an array of pages from manuscripts he’s typed up the old-fashioned way, with typos and excised lines crossed out with inky X’s. Below the display of papers is where the magic happens: a simple wooden desk, adorned with a lamp, which plugs into a power strip, and an Olivetti Underwood Lettera ... more
  • 5 months Exclusive Excerpt: Oscar Cásares’s Border Novel ‘Where We Come From’ Texasmonthly
    It bothered Nina that Rumalda looked her same age, like they might have been classmates in grade school and now had come to be reunited every Friday morning when Rumalda walked across the bridge from Matamoros to Brownsville to clean the house. The truth was, Rumalda was sixteen years younger, and yet the woman hobbled like an old mule with a bad leg that never healed. Bunions. A bone spur. A bad hip. Only God knew. Nina wondered who actually looked her true age, she or her maid. If she had been spared only by being born on this side ... more
  • 5 months Three Texas Hostels Worth Checking Into Texasmonthly
    The first time Deidre Mathis traveled abroad, she was hooked. A trip to the Dominican Republic when she was nineteen left her with a strong case of wanderlust. As a young black woman, she often felt out of place when traveling, but she kept going, racking up 42 stamps on her passport and eventually parlaying her global adventures into a business: Wanderstay Houston, the first black-owned hostel in the state. Since she opened Wanderstay, in December, Mathis has welcomed over six hundred guests, from as far away as England, Australia, and Spain, and she isn’t done yet. She plans to ... more
  • 5 months Meanwhile, in Texas: A Rancher Took His African Watusi Steer Into an Atascocita Petco Texasmonthly
    The two Tarrant County girls who were finalists in the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee required 43 one-on-one rounds and a written test before a winner was declared. A 77-year-old grandmother from Flower Mound jokingly posed on a throne-shaped chunk of ice in Iceland and then had to be rescued after she drifted away from shore. A Fort Worth woman sued Olive Garden after she allegedly suffered severe burns while choking on a stuffed-mushroom appetizer. A wannabe firefighter who called himself “Earthman” while dressed in a silver jumpsuit was turned away from the scene of a massive industrial fire in Deer ... more
  • 5 months Can Out-of-State Liberals Oust a Texas Democrat? Texasmonthly
    Even Republicans who have cast Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as their favorite new left-wing target would love to catch some of the lightning in a bottle that’s made the New York congresswoman a national phenomenon. At the recent South by Southwest conference, in Austin, the unabashedly progressive 29-year-old drew a larger crowd than any of the half-dozen 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in attendance, most of whom have been national figures far longer than AOC. Her rise from political neophyte to power player began less than a year ago, with a stunning David-versus-Goliath unseating of a longtime incumbent in a June 2018 primary. ... more
  • 5 months Pat’s Pick: Everything Translates at Mastrantos in Houston Texasmonthly
    I love going out for breakfast. I mean l-o-v-e it. Fancy or down-home, resort hotel or roadside diner—it almost doesn’t matter what kind or where, as long as the food and coffee are decent. That said, my very, very favorite places have three things: an espresso machine, a pastry case, and hidden corners. That combo allows for undisturbed email checking and podcast listening, fueled by caffeine (“Hi, I think I’ll switch to cappuccino”) and carbs (“Hey, do you have any kolaches left?”). Of late, a pet place for indulging this behavior is Mastrantos, a small restaurant that quietly popped up ... more
  • 5 months Tropical Cocktails From Ruins, a New Deep Ellum Hot Spot Texasmonthly
    Bar: Ruins Location: 2653 Commerce, Dallas Owners: Dan Murry, Abram Vargas, and Peter Novotny Opened: April 2018 The Story: Exposed brick notwithstanding, there’s nothing run-down about Ruins, the latest Deep Ellum venture from the creators of the popular Armoury D.E. Although its name is inspired by Budapest’s “ruin pubs”—abandoned buildings transformed into watering holes—the bar and eatery serves Latin American fare. Peruvian beverage director Christian Armando Guillén and his team, including bar manager Josh Back, have designed the Ruins’ cócteles de casa around a vast collection of agave- and cane-based spirits.  Ambience: The patio offers prime crowd watching, while the back ... more
  • 5 months Everything Julián Castro Knows He Learned From His Mother Texasmonthly
    Along the back wall of Pico de Gallo restaurant, in downtown San Antonio, beyond the cases of pan dulce, looms a colorful, 33-foot mural painted by local artist Armando Sánchez in the style of da Vinci’s Last Supper. It depicts 74 notables, virtually all of them Hispanic, including Medal of Honor recipient Roy Benavidez; civil rights icon Dolores Huerta; Tejano singer Selena; and Willie Velasquez, the founder of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. The viewer’s eye is drawn to the center of the mural by the image of la Virgen de Guadalupe, Mexico’s most revered religious figure, who hovers ... more
  • 5 months Faith, Friendship, and Tragedy at Santa Fe High Texasmonthly
    Only a few kids in the fourth-period girls’ PE class noticed the new student. She had long black hair and mahogany eyes, and when she walked into the gym, she sat by herself in the bleachers, staring curiously at the other girls in their shorts and T-shirts doing jumping jacks and push-ups. She seemed a little lost, unsure what she was supposed to be doing. It was September 11, 2017, and after two weeks of cancellations caused by Hurricane Harvey, classes had resumed at Santa Fe High School, some 35 miles south of Houston.  Just before fourth period came to an end, ... more
  • 5 months Attacks on the Dallas DA Signal Trouble for the Criminal Justice Reform Movement Texasmonthly
    Until fairly recently, the politics of criminal justice was a simple matter. Put criminals in jail, as many as possible. Both Democrats and Republicans ran for office on a tough-on-crime platform. But as crime rates plummeted and the toll of mass incarceration became apparent to all but the most hardened lawmakers and prosecutors, political space opened up for criminal justice reform and for more compassionate, evidence-based approaches. In the last few years, there’s been a new development—a strong push from the left to elect reform-minded prosecutors to change the system from inside. Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot was elected in ... more
  • 5 months Flush With Cash, Senator John Cornyn Seems to Spur Democrats to Challenge Him Texasmonthly
    Drawing a lesson from last year’s near loss by incumbent Senator Ted Cruz to Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, Texas’s senior senator, John Cornyn, has declared several times that he will not underestimate any potential opponent to his re-election next year. He’s certainly been stocking his war chest like a candidate who expects a bruising fight. In the first quarter of 2019, Cornyn raised more than $2 million, giving him more than $7.5 million cash on hand—the most of any incumbent U.S. senator seeking re-election next year, a spokesman said. His campaign has hired John Jackson, who managed Governor Greg Abbott’s successful ... more
  • 5 months Houston’s Georgia James and Indigo Make GQ’s List of America’s Best New Restaurants Texasmonthly
    Houston has garnered a few more plaudits to bolster its growing national reputation as a culinary destination. GQ magazine’s just-released list of the thirteen best new restaurants in the country features Georgia James and Indigo (both also appeared on Texas Monthly’s best list, published in March). Another Texas spot, the Brewer’s Table in Austin, earned an honorable mention for one of its dishes, the smoked rabbit carnitas. In the introduction to his selection, GQ food writer Brett Martin waxed eloquent about Texas’s largest city. “Let me begin with two dinners in Houston. These were two meals over the course of 24 ... more
  • 5 months Kendra Scott: “If You’re Doing What Everybody Else Is Doing, You’ve Already Failed.” Texasmonthly
    Subscribe Apple — Google Play — Stitcher — Spotify This week’s National Podcast of Texas features entrepreneur and jewelry designer Kendra Scott, whom Forbes recently ranked ahead of Taylor Swift and Beyonce on a list of the country’s “richest self-made women,” with an estimated net worth of $500 million. Scott’s name is over the door of more than 80 company-owned stores, and her products are available in another 600 retail outlets worldwide. As the story goes, her eponymous billion-dollar fashion brand started as a $500 project in the spare bedroom of her Austin home. In October, she’ll be inducted into the Texas Business Hall ... more
  • 5 months The Top 25 New Barbecue Joints in Texas! Texasmonthly
    Texas barbecue is flourishing. The pace at which new joints, and more specifically great new joints, are opening is staggering. I’ve spent the two years since we published our 2017 list of the Top 50 barbecue joints trying to keep up by taking frequent road trips to every corner of the state. Now, no matter where you are in Texas—even on the Llano Estacado—you’re not far from great barbecue. There has never been a simple definition of Texas barbecue. Cooking methods, wood types, and seasonings vary across the state. And now things are getting even more complex. Motivated by the ... more
  • 5 months Thefts of Austin-Based Car2Go Rentals Show the Vulnerability of Our App-Based World Texasmonthly
    Car2Go’s service launched in Austin in 2010, and the capital remains its only Texas market. Owned by Daimler—but with its North American headquarters in Austin— the company rents cars by the minute. Its customers use an app to locate, reserve, and unlock one of Car2Go’s local fleet in any of 25 cities worldwide. Then they just hop into a Mercedes (or Smart car, in some places), pull the keys from the glove compartment, and go. The system is elegant and convenient and, as the company learned in Chicago this week, not entirely secure. More than 100 of the company’s 400 ... more
  • 5 months Best & Worst Legislators in Real Time: Senator Bob Hall Texasmonthly
    The Texas Legislature is not an especially uplifting place, but it can provide avenues for personal growth on the part of lawmakers. (Not that many, mind you, but the opportunities are there for those who want them.) Every other year, 181 people from wildly different backgrounds arrive in Austin to work with each other, and though that usually results in a number of near-fistfights, many lawmakers learn to respect the players on the “other team.” Those moments of empathy can be seen when tea party lawmakers and Democrats work together to fix local problems or, say, when El Paso County ... more
  • 5 months Schlotzsky’s Is Rebranding its 300-Plus Locations as Schlotzsky’s Austin Eatery Texasmonthly
    In the waning years of the twentieth century, Schlotzsky’s was a winner. The chain, launched in 1971 from a spot on Austin’s South Congress Avenue, didn’t have anybody named “Schlotzsky” involved, but it did spawn a franchise model that spread nationwide. By 1981, there were one hundred stores. At its peak, in 2001, there were more than 750. Things went south after that. The company declared bankruptcy in 2004 and was acquired by Atlanta’s Focus Brands—which also owns Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, and Seattle’s Best Coffee—in 2006. Schlotzsky’s hasn’t been Texas-based in more than a decade, but it’s touting its Austin ... more
  • 5 months Home Tours Across the State Showcase Historic Treasures and Modern Marvels Texasmonthly
    Calling all architecture enthusiasts, interior design lovers, and inquisitive types. This spring, home tours across the state are giving the public the chance to tour private homes and learn more about their history as well as the designers, architects, and owners who transformed them into livable works of art. From the Renaissance Revival restoration in San Marcos’s historic district and classic Tudor homes in Dallas to an Austin abode filled with magic oddities and memorabilia, there’s something for every interest. Take a peek to see what these houses have to offer—you might just find inspiration for your next home renovation. ... more
  • 5 months ‘Truth & Justice’ Podcast Offers $20,000 Reward for Info in Controversial Houston Murder Case Texasmonthly
    A Michigan podcaster is back in Texas, trying to free an inmate he swears was wrongly convicted. This is the fifth Texas case in three and a half years that the podcaster, Bob Ruff of Bridgman, Michigan, has investigated. In that time Ruff has found new evidence in cold cases, helped obtain attorneys for forgotten men, and even helped bring one man home to his family. In this latest case, Ruff, 40, and his Truth & Justice podcast are putting up a reward of $20,000 for information leading to the arrest of the killer of Jaime Melgar, who was found ... more
  • 5 months BBQ News Roundup: Busting Brisket Myths, Obama Loves Texas Barbecue, and New Fort Worth Joints Texasmonthly
    The Houston Chronicle says the idea of Texas brisket seasoned with just salt and pepper is a myth. Take a tour of the new location of Heim BBQ in Fort Worth: A special preview: Emma and Travis Heim take us inside the new @HeimBBQ location in west Fort Worth. Thanks @TXWeekendChef for this — Bud Kennedy / #ReadLocal (@EatsBeat) April 5, 2019 In the Star-Telegram, Bud Kennedy provided an extensive list of barbecue developments in Fort Worth. Just Cooking BBQ and More in Harker Heights recently celebrated two years in business. Meat Church has opened a storefront in Waxahachie: ... more
  • 5 months Corpus Christi Photographer to Use Guggenheim Grant on El Paso/Alaska Project Texasmonthly
    To Jennifer Garza-Cuen, an American photographer who spent fifteen years living and traveling abroad, the idea of home is complicated. It’s also a fertile subject. Since her return to the U.S. in 2004, the 47-year-old assistant professor of photography at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has built a rich oeuvre questioning the centrality of geographic origin to a person’s identity. Her recent series, Imag[in]ing America, is a vivid photographic journey through six places in the U.S. to which she has a personal connection. “I’m into this idea of where we come from as a signifier to define us. People ask, ‘What’s your ... more
  • 5 months Houston and Dallas Lead the Nation in Distracted Driving Texasmonthly
    Distracted driving is a scourge of our hyperconnected age. The nationwide statistics are shocking: More than 6,000 pedestrians were killed last year by drivers—many of whom, the Governors Highway Safety Administration suggests, were under the influence of a smartphone. The National Safety Council found that distracted driving was the cause of at least 1.6 million traffic collisions that same year. In 2016, the last year for which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data is available, 3,450 fatal collisions were directly linked to distracted driving. That last number is likely underestimated. Unlike drunk driving, no tests exist to determine whether ... more
  • 5 months ‘Homecoming’ Is Beyoncé’s Ode to the Power and Creativity of Blackness Texasmonthly
    When Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter stepped onto the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival stage on April 14, 2018, and delivered a groundbreaking performance unlike anything the music festival had ever seen, it wasn’t just another landmark performance for the now 37-year-old Houston native, it was a landmark moment for black culture. The nearly two-hour performance made me, a Bible Belt-raised, going-to-church-every-Sunday Southern black woman, believe that Beyoncé might in fact be the second coming that my pastor preached about so much from the pulpit. On Wednesday, I once again found myself questioning my religion after Netflix released Homecoming, a documentary directed ... more
  • 5 months Southern Q BBQ Brings Its Spicy Boudin to a Second Location Texasmonthly
    Smoked boudin has become increasingly popular at barbecue joints throughout Texas—not just along the Louisiana border. Most of it comes from just two suppliers in Beaumont: Zummo Meat Co. and DJ’s Original Boudain. They’re both Texas brands using a rice-heavy Texas-style recipe. That wouldn’t do for Steve Garner at Southern Q BBQ in Houston. He has developed his own boudin since Southern Q opened on Kuykendahl Road in Houston in 2015. Two years ago, he added a spicy version, and you can now get both at the new second location of Southern Q on West Richey Road. Garner developed the ... more
  • 5 months Dan Patrick’s Budget Negotiators Lack Racial, Ideological, and Geographic Diversity Texasmonthly
    The sole constitutional duty of the Texas Legislature is to pass a two-year budget. Once the House and the Senate pass their versions of a spending plan, a small group of budget negotiators from each chamber then gathers to come up with a final version to send to the governor. That task of resolving differences is one of the hardest and most important faced by lawmakers. And if the state budget is a moral document—one that tells the world what Texans, or at least the officials who represent us, believe is of value—then it’s also a task invested with great ... more
  • 5 months So, Did Astros Pitcher Collin McHugh Take the Red Pill or the Blue Pill? Texasmonthly
    Things are going well for the Astros a few weeks into the 2019 MLB season. With a 12-5 record, they’re currently in the midst of a ten-game winning streak and in possession of the second-best record in baseball. While it’s still early, they’re currently on pace for their third consecutive 100-win season. The bullpen is strong, fan favorite Jose Altuve is at full health, and the future is bright: two of the top seven prospects in baseball—pitcher Forrest Whitley and outfielder Kyle Tucker—are currently playing for the team’s AAA farm club in Round Rock. The season might have gotten off ... more
  • 5 months The Beauty of Semana Santa in the Rio Grande Valley Texasmonthly
    The Rio Grande Valley has long been a place where American and Mexican traditions peacefully coexist—a fact that’s perhaps most evident during the chaotic spring tourist season. March and April see the arrival of flights and cars full of tourists, visitors looking to lie on South Padre Island’s yellow sands and soak up the marvelous sunshine. Throngs of beaded, shirtless, oft-drunken college students on spring break descend upon the coast. Along the border, at places like Peñitas and Progreso, restaurants that sit empty much of the year become hubs of activity, planning centers for international day trips. The natural world ... more
  • 5 months The Homesick Texan Is Homesick No More Texasmonthly
    If you follow Lisa Fain on social media, then you already know: the Homesick Texan has come home. During the past few months, the food blogger and cookbook author—who has captivated Texpats and Texans alike with her recipes and memories of such classic Texas dishes as enchiladas, chicken-fried steak, chili, and chile con queso—had been hinting that it was time. There were references to traveling around the state, investigating big cities and little towns. Then, in February, came this slightly cryptic tweet: Hey @asktsa, can you bring a cast-iron skillet onto a plane? — Lisa Fain (@homesicktexan) February 23, 2019 ... more
  • 5 months Willie Nelson Previews His New Record for Some Lucky Fans Texasmonthly
    Willie Nelson isn’t known for sitting still, and as he nears birthday number 86 on April 29, he seems as creatively and commercially active as ever. Over the weekend, Nelson hosted a listening party for his forthcoming album Ride Me Back Home (his sixty-ninth studio effort) for a few dozen radio contest winners at his Luck Ranch, in Spicewood. The album is due in June, and Nelson will promote its release with two dozen tour dates in May and June, which culminates Independence Day weekend with the Outlaw Festival in Dallas and his annual July Fourth Picnic in Austin, both featuring ... more
  • 5 months In Laredo Visit, Yo-Yo Ma Asks That We Celebrate What Unites Us Texasmonthly
    On the morning of Saturday, April 13, 2019, it is warm and overcast on the banks of the Rio Grande River in Laredo, Texas. Barn swallows fill the air above the river, their tiny dartlike shapes shifting midflight, swooping in unison as they feed on the insects that rise above the river. A small makeshift stage has been erected for world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Ma is tuning his instrument, preparing to play a piece by Bach that will send music over water, across the border, and into the consciousness of all who are listening. Ma is here on a mission ... more
  • 5 months The Governor Wants to Replace Property Taxes with ‘Consumption’ Taxes. That’s a Terrible Idea. Texasmonthly
    One of the most pervasive myths about Texas is that it’s a low-tax, low-spending state. It’s true that Texas doesn’t have a state income tax. But Texas’ per-capita government spending isn’t that much less than the national average and its tax system is highly regressive. The citizens of even the reddest of red states still want roads, schools, and a basic level of social services. Those things cost a lot of money, and that money has to come from somewhere. In Texas, we raise money for government primarily through steep property taxes and an unusually high state sales tax. (If ... more
  • 5 months Is This the Most Houston Historical Marker of All Time? Texasmonthly
    This sign not only commemorates a “historic” parking garage, something that seems it could only happen in Houston—it commemorates one that has been torn down! Whining about traffic and parking and wondering what used to be on any given corner are right up there among Houstonians’ favorite pastimes, rivaling telling people how “Dallas sucks” in every possible way and how Houston is much, much weirder than Austin could ever dream of being. It’s what we do best. It’s in our civic DNA. History should tell us something about who we are based on knowing who we were, and this marker ... more
  • 5 months The Austin Bold Soccer Team Encourages Farmers to Bring Chickens to a Game, and PETA Is Not Happy Texasmonthly
    Austin Bold FC, a lower-level professional soccer team owned by Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein, has had something of a snakebit start. The team sprang into existence as a way to demonstrate the viability of professional soccer in Austin—a purpose that became moot after a Major League Soccer team began the process of coming to town (Austin FC will make its debut in 2021). Last week, as the team prepared for its first string of home games, it was revealed that COTA’s Austin Bold stadium began construction outside of the permitting process. And now they’ve got an even ... more
  • 5 months Sorting Fact From Fiction in the Story of Pro-life Celebrity Abby Johnson Texasmonthly
    The most talked-about scene in Unplanned is also the goriest. It depicts the moment in the fall of 2009 when Johnson, then the young director of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, witnessed an abortion on an ultrasound monitor for the first time and was so utterly horrified that she was moved not only to quit, but to join the anti-abortion movement. Take that “road to Damascus” moment away, and you not only don’t have a Christian film, you have no Abby Johnson; it’s the moment that defines her as a conservative Christian celebrity. Which perhaps explains why she devoted ... more
  • 5 months Smiley’s Craft Barbecue Brings East Austin Flavors to Small-Town North Texas Texasmonthly
    Ponder, Texas, is an unlikely location for a new craft barbecue business. The one-stoplight town of fewer than 2,000 residents, about thirteen miles southwest of Denton, isn’t on the way to anywhere unless you’re coming from Krum to the north or Dish to the south. But Brendan Lamb was out of options, so in February, he opened Smiley’s Craft Barbecue in a trailer parked along the BNSF Railway track that cuts through town. Lamb, a native Texan who grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, twice thought his future was in California. However, Texas kept drawing him back, not always ... more
  • 5 months Dan Patrick Gets His Way with Property Tax Reform, But Another Republican Has the Last Word Texasmonthly
    Sometimes the pursuit of civility can be more potent than the wielding of raw power. On Monday morning, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick made moves to blow up a long-standing Senate tradition—the three-fifths rule—in order to pass his top legislative priority, property tax reform. But in a dramatic turn of events, his Republican nemesis, Senator Kel Seliger, of Amarillo, preempted the move by simultaneously giving Patrick his property tax bill and preserving the three-fifths rule. At the end of the day, Patrick got what he wanted, but Seliger, in an eleven-minute speech, offered an implicit indictment of Patrick’s bullying, ideological governing ... more
  • 5 months Slabs, Donks, and Swangas: An African-American Car Club Seeks a Home in a Changing Austin Texasmonthly
    Rain is in the forecast on this Saturday morning at the end of March, but Rogerick Davis washes his silver- and red-trimmed 2002 Ford Explorer anyway. Parked in a bay at the Carwash on MLK Boulevard in East Austin—a place he describes as a monument to the city’s car culture—Davis foams down the 24-inch chrome rims to prepare his SUV for Texas Relays weekend. The Explorer turns heads, especially with its back window decal that reads “Hands Full of Cash Car Club.” The Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays track and field meet, hosted annually by the University of Texas at Austin, ... more
  • 5 months Texas A&M’s Michael K. Young: “I Never Want People to Think I Have All the Answers” Texasmonthly
    Subscribe Apple — Google Play — Stitcher — Spotify This week’s National Podcast of Texas—a conversation with Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young—was recorded live in Austin at the Texas A&M House during South by Southwest. May 1 will mark Young’s four-year anniversary at A&M. His prior posts include leading the University of Utah and George Washington University’s Law School. The Harvard Law graduate also spent twenty years teaching at Columbia University and was Deputy Under Secretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs, and Ambassador for Trade and Environmental Affairs in the Department of State during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Three ... more
  • 5 months The Texanist: Help! My In-Laws Call Queso “Cheese Dip”! Texasmonthly
    Q: When visiting my in-laws in Arkansas, should I speak up when they offer me “cheese dip” and/or “avocado dip”? Oh, the humanity! It’s queso! It’s guacamole! As a Texan in a room full of proud Arkansans, this is a delicate situation. Do I say something? Jonathan H., Dallas A: The Texanist isn’t breaking new ground here when he says that interactions with the in-laws can sometimes be fraught. Everybody knows this. But the potential for discomfort is ramped up when the in-laws in question are out-of-staters. Remember an earlier Texanist correspondent, poor Bill Huston from Tyler? His in-laws, Yankees ... more
  • 5 months Texas Monthly Recommends: Musgraves and Midland on Brooks & Dunn’s ‘Reboot’ Texasmonthly
    Kacey Musgraves and Midland reimagine country classics on Brooks & Dunn’s Reboot Over the course of a near three-decade career, the iconic half-Texan duo Brooks & Dunn have given country music an array of songs that have remained hits in the genre for years. Now, with their eleventh studio album, Reboot, the duo has recruited help to breathe new life into their classics. “Slow Burn” singer Kacey Musgraves was tapped to cover “Neon Moon,” which has become a staple at her concerts. Though she’s often been criticized for straying too far into the pop world, the cover is pure Musgraves—a ... more
  • 5 months ‘Action’ Producer Bradley Jackson on the Odds of Texas Legalizing Sports Gambling Texasmonthly
    Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1992 law that prohibited sports gambling in most states (Nevada enjoyed an exception). When that happened, the floodgates for legalized sports betting across the country opened up—Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island became the first to allow gambling on the outcome of a game, but they’re not going to be the last. Texas-based documentary filmmaker and UT graduate Bradley Jackson, who produced the surprise hit Dealt, about a blind San Antonio card shark, spent much of the past six months immersed in the world of sports gambling for ... more
  • 5 months Dan Patrick Alerts Senate That He Intends to Use “Nuclear Option” to Pass Property Tax Reform Texasmonthly
    Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, increasingly desperate to pass legislation aimed at reforming the state’s property tax system, told a group of senators late Thursday night that if he can’t get the votes to win passage of the bill, on Monday he is simply going to change a decades-long Senate practice in order to guarantee himself a victory. Patrick issued the warning to Senate Democrats Thursday night, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussion. To take up debate on legislation, three-fifths of the Senate, or nineteen senators, must vote to move forward. Patrick warned he would suspend this so-called three-fifths ... more
  • 5 months Showdown at the J.W. Marriott: What the Bonnen-McNutt Tussle Signals about the Political Wars to Come Texasmonthly
    In the pantheon of lawmaker-involved squabbles, what happened at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Austin on Wednesday night probably doesn’t rank higher (lower?) than the time Borris Miles whipped out a gun at a party, or the time Bob Bullock pulled a gun on a journalist, or the time last session that Matt Rinaldi allegedly threatened to shoot Poncho Nevárez, or countless other historical examples of pointless macho posturing because this is Texas and that’s what we do. But Wednesday’s events certainly belong in the rankings. The Texas Tribune has the full rundown of what apparently happened. At a Republican ... more
  • 5 months This Austin Startup Hopes to Be the Top Golf of Baseball Texasmonthly
    The Round Rock Express opened their season at Dell Diamond on Tuesday night, losing 3-1 in a game that turned on a couple of blown calls by the ump. Despite the boos from the crowd, though, the AAA affiliate for the Houston Astros know that the final score isn’t what many in the ballpark are most interested in. These are the minor leagues, and the experience of a great live game is much of the draw. That’s part of what made Dell Diamond the ideal location for the first Home Run Dugout, a sports entertainment business founded by Texas natives ... more
  • 5 months The Porkstrami Panini at Frisco’s Heritage Table is Something Else Texasmonthly
    For two years, I’ve been telling myself that I needed to check out the Heritage Table, in Frisco. When I finally made it this week, owner Rich Vana told me not to feel about taking so long. “I have friends who live in Dallas who were in my wedding that haven’t been here,” he said with a laugh. Once a food writer, Vana crossed over to the other side in 2014, serving brisket tacos and burgers at pop-ups in the Dallas area. He gathered a following ( I enjoyed his brisket tacos in 2015) and in 2017, he opened his ... more
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