Cover to Cover

Austin

FICTION
The Gay Place, Billy Lee Brammer
An acute portrait of the capital city’s politics and social mores, circa the fifties.

NONFICTION
The Duchess of Palms, Nadine Eckhardt
The “answer record” to The Gay Place—by Brammer’s ex-wife.

WILD CARD
Waterloo, Karen Olsson
Politics, journalists, slackers—pretty much The Gay Place for the twenty-first century.

The Playlist

 

“See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” Blind Lemon Jefferson (1927)

One of the great old blues songs, by one of the greatest blues artists; as a guitarist, Jefferson influenced everyone who came after him.

“Ida Red,” Bob Wills (1938)

The first thing to know about western swing? It was dance music. 

Where to Be a Tourist

The Capitol, Austin

Everyone loves this building, even if they don’t love politics. Luckily for you, the Legislature meets in regular session for only 140 days every other year, leaving you plenty of time to explore without the crowds. Yes, the dome is fifteen feet higher than the U.S. Capitol’s, and yes, it is the largest state capitol complex in the country. What else would you expect?

The Media Guide

Van Cliburn, Moscow 1958

How a pianist from Kilgore fostered the first thaw in the Cold War.

LBJ Daisy Ad

One of the first—and still the most notorious—televised political attack ad. It aired exactly once, but its power is undisputed.

Don't Move to Texas

They asked me to write 1,500 words on why I would never move back to Texas. “Only fifteen hundred?” I replied, but that was a joke. I would move back to Texas, for a home next door to George II and permission to form a Sex Pistols tribute band and rehearse in the garage. I would also require the $2 million I am due for bearing the scarlet T burned into my forehead for all these years in civilized society.

Celebrate the Spurs (in Haiku)

Jaunty hats, cold beers
Section 20, Baseline Bums
Your new life goal, set
 
White hair and cool glare
Sometimes beard, mostly frowning
Popovich watches

Down by two for win
Ginóbili sinks a three
Argentina, thanks
 
Quiet Tim? Nonsense!
Count the rings, all five of them
They speak the loudest
 
City ’rupts! Spurs win!
Traffic, cheers, car horns blaring
Skip work tomorrow

SXSW 2015: To Live and Die in Startup Village

It’s a beautiful March evening in Austin, and South by Southwest is in full swing. Along Sixth Street and Red River, lines are forming for the night’s exclusive parties. Elsewhere downtown, movie theaters are rolling out red carpets for Hollywood celebrities. The great unwashed and uncredentialed are out too, soaking up sun like they own the place, mobbing the jogging paths and margarita-strewn patios that ring the downtown VIP zone.

The Prettiest Li'l Drive You'll Ever See

Want to see some of the roughest, most scenic terrain in the state? Head to far West Texas and start in the remote desert village of Terlingua, in theory a ghost town but in reality home to a couple hundred desert rats living in the shadow of the jagged Chisos and Sierra Del Carmen mountains. Drive west on FM 170 through an astounding wilderness of shallow canyons, ancient riverbeds, and craggy limestone hills.

How to Drive 85 Miles per Hour

The fastest road in America does not cross the Mojave Desert or the big sky country of Montana. Instead, it cuts through an unexceptional stretch of farmland southeast of Austin, where the posted speed limit on Texas Highway 130 jumps to 85 miles per hour. The so-called Texas Autobahn begins just after the town of Mustang Ridge and continues for the next 41 miles to Seguin. Traversing the entirety of it won’t take you long, though because it’s a toll road, the trip will run you about $9.

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