Michael Hall

Michael Hall graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979. Before joining Texas Monthly in 1997, he was an associate editor of Third Coast magazine and the managing editor of the Austin Chronicle. Hall won two 2001 Katy Awards: one for Best Reporter Writing Portfolio and one for Personality Profile/Interview for his July 2001 story “Lance Armstrong Has Something to Get Off His Chest.” He won a Texas Gavel Award in 2003 for his story about capital punishment, “Death Isn’t Fair,” which was also nominated for a National Magazine Award. Hall’s stories have appeared in the Best American Magazine Writing, the Best American Sportswriting, the Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Da Capo Best Music Writing. He has also written for Trouser Press, the New York Times, Men’s Journal, and the Austin American-Statesman.

Stories

The Ballad of Billy Joe Shaver

If the Corsicana native is the best songwriter in Texas, perhaps it's because he knows his material. Hardscrabble upbringing. Sinful behavior. Redemption. Personal tragedy. Profound sorrow. And, finally, more redemption.

God and Man at Baylor

Can one man change the world's largest Baptist university? He can if he's controversial preacher-president Robert Sloan, Jr. And, just maybe, one man can destroy it too.

Running for His Life

Ten years ago, on a mountaintop in Africa, about to be burned alive by tribal warriors, a teenager saved himself the only way he knew how. Even today, he wonders why he survived.

The Skinny on Slim

Thomas Austin Preston, Jr.—a.k.a. Amarillo Slim—has cut cards with LBJ and hustled all manner of sharpies at pool and Ping-Pong. But at 74, his greatest success continues to be at the poker table, as my $100 and I found out.

Pit Stops

Where are the best places to eat barbecue in Texas? Six years ago we published a highly subjective—and hotly debated— list of our fifty favorite joints, and now we’ve gone back for seconds. Ten intrepid souls drove more than 21,000 miles in search of 2003’s worthiest ‘cue. Here’s what they came back with: the top 5 and the next 45, plus honorable mentions, great chains, and meat by mail.

The Ghosts of Mount Carmel

Ten years after eighty Davidians died in a government-led siege, a few surviving members of the sect have returned to the plains east of Waco, looking for something. And, in some cases, waiting for David Koresh to return.

Two Wings and a Prayer

Legend has it that an East Texas preacher's homemade flying machine took off in late 1902, nearly a year before Kitty Hawk. Are the history books wrong about who was first in flight—or are they right, brothers?

Death Isn’t Fair

Cops who threaten torture. Prosecutors who go too far. Defense lawyers who sleep on the job. And an appellate court that rubber-stamps it all. Let’s be tough on crime, but let’s also see that justice is done.

Two Barmaids, Five Alligators, and the Butcher of Elmendorf

He was a ladies' man who owned a tavern. He kept gators in a pool behind the place, into which he liked to toss small animals. He hired women to wait tables, and some of them disappeared. What happened? With Joe Ball, it was easy to believe the worst.

Austin to Caddo Lake on Interstate 35, U.S. 79, and Texas Highway 43

African Masks, two old steam locomotives, Lady Bird's childhood home-and miniature donkeys.

Mack McCormick Still Has the Blues

His cache of unpublished interviews and unreleased recordings is unrivaled—but both collector and collection are showing signs of age. Who will save the legacy of the man who saved Texas music?

A Long, Strange Trip

The life of Roky Erikson—one of the most influential Texas rock and rollers of all time—has been one calamity after another. His family and friends have taken care of him with the best of intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell.

Walker Railey

Picking up the trail of Walker Railey.

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