More than 4,000 words in the Sunday Fort Worth Star-Telegram were devoted to telling the story of John O’Brien, an accused jewel thief suspected in dozens of spectacular, million dollar heists around Texas and Oklahoma over the past decade.
On September 12, one month after Governor Rick Perry declared his intention to run for president, Luminant, the largest electricity generator in the state, announced that it would partially shut down a huge coal-fired power plant in northeast Texas, close the associated lignite coal mines, and lay off five hundred workers. Not a great headline for the governor to see, since the state’s already overburdened power grid barely kept up with demand during this past summer’s record heat wave.
Sarah Posner’s 5,000-word piece in Religious Dispatches details the “spiritual” war on abortion underway in Texas under Rick Perry’s watch. “Texas has a robust constellation of anti-choice groups that, in conjunction with an increasingly powerful Republican caucus, have chalked up a series of impressive victories,” Posner writes.
The first thing a visitor to the Texas A&M campus sees, as he comes into town from the west and makes the turn onto University Drive, is the football stadium, a giant hulk of white concrete with “Kyle Field” emblazoned on one side in huge maroon letters.
Take exit 430A from Interstate 35 in Dallas, then drive north on Oak Lawn Avenue, and you will eventually come to the Ashley Priddy Memorial Fountain, a burbling, five-tiered, stone-and-tile sentry that signals your arrival in Highland Park. As you cross Armstrong Parkway—named for John S. Armstrong, the meatpacking titan who purchased Highland Park’s original 420 acres in 1907—Oak Lawn becomes Preston Road. You’ll notice that the street signs are now blue.
One cool Lubbock afternoon in 1979, Father Joe James made a kite. He nailed together a small wooden cross, glued paper across it, and on the long tail of twine tied streamers every five feet. Then he walked out of St. John Neumann Catholic Church, the energy-saving, below-ground house of worship he had designed, climbed up a modest slope, and launched the contraption above the church’s school and football field. Staring up at the fluttering streamers, he could gauge which way the wind was blowing and where it blew hardest.
In the last desperate months of his life, he would come into the restaurant at all hours of the day and take a seat, sometimes at the counter and other times in one of the back booths. He was always alone. He wore a scruffy ball cap, and behind his large, square glasses there was something odd about his eyes. They didn’t always move together. Barbara Billnitzer, one of the waitresses, would bring him a menu and ask how he was doing.