Welcome to Texas!

Native Texans are a proud lot, but they would be the first to admit that the state has long been shaped by newcomers. In fact, the story of Texas is the story of migration. The Plains Indians poured in to follow the buffalo. Cabeza de Vaca, who washed ashore on Galveston Island in 1528, was in pursuit of land. The Spanish later rode north from what is now Mexico, and the Anglos headed west from the United States. Sam Houston showed up after he beat a congressman in Washington, D.C., with a cane; George H. W.

Don’t Call Them “Baby”

“Piranha” is their code word. Maddie Marlow and Taylor Dye, the nineteen-year-olds behind the chart-topping country duo Maddie & Tae, text it to each other during uncomfortable—or even predatory—situations as a cue that it’s time to leave. It’s their go-to when a conversation with a fan descends into sexual innuendo or when an interviewer talks down to them. Most recently, they used it to bail during a songwriting session in Los Angeles with a collaborator who dismissed them as bubblegum country.

Hey Murphy

Horseshoe crab exoskeletons found while kayaking in Nantucket. A fossilized megalodon shark tooth discovered on a beach in North Carolina. Pretzel-shaped napkin holders picked up in Round Top. Objects like these fill the East Austin home of jewelry designer and photographer Sarah Murphy. They’re souvenirs of her travels, like the cross-country road trip that led Murphy and her artist/musician boyfriend, Matthew Kemp (natives of the Washington, D.C., area), to Texas, in 2009.

The Good Son

I am in Rudy’s old room in the back, reading, when my mother interrupts me so I can  help her move my father from his wheelchair to the bed. Rudy, my older brother, usually comes by every day at 6 a.m. and again on his way home from teaching high school to move him. But I am home from New York for the week, in Ysleta, the neighborhood of my childhood, so the duty has fallen to me.

Lucrative When Wet

In the early eighties, a family rolling down Interstate 35 between Georgetown and San Antonio would have confronted a string of uniquely Texan tourist attractions. Over the years, Wonder World, Inner Space Cavern, the Snake Farm, and Ralph the Swimming Pig at Aquarena Springs probably pried millions of dollars from the hands of road-weary parents pestered by their carsick kids.

The Dreamer

When Kent Finlay agreed to be profiled for this piece, he knew he was dying. “Better sooner than later,” the revered songwriter and venue-owner from San Marcos warned. We scheduled an interview for later that week. When I called Kent’s cell at the appointed time, his daughter Jenni answered. “Dad’s not conscious right now,” she told me. Jenni was by her dad’s side, along with her sister, HalleyAnna, and brother, Sterling.

Meanwhile, in Texas . . .

  • The Brenham owner of the world’s largest barbecue pit, which can cook four tons of meat, put the grill up for sale on eBay with a starting price of $350,000.
  • A first-grade teacher in New Braunfels announced that she would donate one of her kidneys to a six-year-old student suffering organ failure.
  • The Rosenberg Police Department released a sketch of a robbery suspect wearing a ski mask.
  • Texas Tech students protested as a bulldozer knocked down an eleven-foot-tall “snow penis.”

The Checklist

Books

Unplayable Lies, Dan Jenkins (Doubleday, March 17)
Contrary to what the subtitle says, this is probably not “The Only Golf Book You’ll Ever Need.” There are, of course, all the other golf books Jenkins has written. Still, here are forty pieces, half of them new, half of them revised and republished from Golf Digest, showcasing the master’s deep golf expertise and (if you can bear the occasional tedious bout of PC-bashing) sharp wit. 

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