Abilene Artist Aaron Watson’s Self-Released Album Is #1 on the Country Chart

Right now the number one album on the country chart is called The Underdog. That’s a fitting name for Aaron Watson’s twelfth album, which the Abilene singer-songwriter self-released last week. Perhaps only in a culture as regimented as that of Nashville country music is a guy like Watson—a good-looking white fella with a big voice who likes to sing about loving God and America—truly an “underdog.” But in a world where Gary Overton, the CEO and chairman of Sony Music Nashville, recently declared that “if you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist,” the apparently nonexistent Watson, with his chart-topping album, definitely fits the bill.

Dallas Sportscaster Dale Hansen Is a Viral Sensation Again

Last year, WFAA sports reporter Dale Hansen became a viral video superstar after comments he made about Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to enter the NFL draft (and to subsequently watch his stock plummet, seemingly as a result, leaving him to take his talents to Dancing With the Stars). 

Hansen’s comments about Sam were thoughtful, big-hearted, and incisive. But at least part of what made him an Internet sensation is that—frankly—we don’t expect that sort of thing from a guy who looks and sounds like Dale Hansen. White-haired, white-skinned sportscasters from Texas, good ol’ boys with jobs on the evening news, tend to be stereotyped as conservative and reactionary, and that made the impassioned statement that Hansen offered about Sam, and against homophobia and domestic violence, the definition of a man-bites-dog story. Hansen ended up on The Ellen Degeneres Show last February.

How Those Rumors About Dez Bryant Started

Let’s make one thing clear at the outset: nobody knows if this much-talked-about video of Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant doing something that could get him suspended from the NFL even exists. There are plenty of rumors, and there are people who claim to know what the video supposedly shows, but no member of the media has claimed to have actually seen said video. 

Yet over the past week, the story about the video that may or may not exist of Dez doing something horrible in a Dallas-area Walmart parking lot has gone from the sort of unsourced innuendo that gossip blogs like Terez Owens traffic in to something that reporters from mainstream outlets with league partnerships are openly talking about. Last Friday, on an appearance with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, the head of NBC’s ProFootballTalk, Mike Florio, decided to bring it up. Speaking about the Cowboys’ seeming reluctance to sign Bryant to a long-term contract, he said:

Richard Linklater Thinks You Should Be a Vegetarian

Richard Linklater told a very specific kind of Texas story over the past dozen years in Boyhood, but his interest in documenting a chunk of a lifetime on camera extends beyond his Best Picture-nominated film. And we’re not just talking about the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight series he’s filmed with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy every nine years since 1995 (we’re already camping out for tickets to Before Lunchtime in 2022!). No, the conceit behind a new PSA that Linklater made and stars in for PETA is that, every five years since he went vegetarian in 1985, he’s sat down in front of the camera to espouse the joys of the meat-free lifestyle.

McDonald’s Thinks “Tamales Are a Thing of the Past,” McBurritos Are Where It’s At

In the U.S., McDonald’s latest ad campaign involves mocking wimps who turn to trendy foods like quinoa, kale, and Greek yogurt when they could be chowing down on a double-decker hamburger from McDonald’s. 

As culture war advertising goes, it’s pretty on point—the overlap between people who are considering getting a Big Mac and people who use kale and Greek yogurt as a base for their smoothies is probably not all that significant. McDonald’s can presumably afford to alienate the quinoa-eaters if it reassures their core market that they can eat their Big Macs with pride rather than shame. The emotions that accompany food are weird, but powerful! 

How Badly Did the Grammys Rob Beyoncé Last Night?

Let’s get this out of the way first: the Grammys, as a system to determine what the best music in a given year might have been, are a joke. Like, at the 29th Annual Grammy Awards in 1987, the Chicago Bears—the football teamnearly stole the award for “Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals” from Prince, who released “Kiss” that same year. Awards shows like the Oscars and the Emmys are generally inadequate when it comes to honoring different kinds of art, and the sheer amount of music recorded in any year, plus the wide diversity in genre, tone, expectations, styles, and tastes, makes true apples-to-apples comparisons impossible.

With all that said, however, it’s tough to swallow the fact that Beck’s Morning Phase pulled off the stunning upset of taking “Album of the Year” honors in a category that featured Beyoncé, whose self-titled album stunned the world when it was secretly released overnight in December 2013. 

What Does It Mean that Some High-Profile Sponsors Have Pulled Out of SXSW?

People have been making predictions about the end of SXSW for a very long time. Back in 2011, technology blog TechCrunch mocked the rush to declare that the conference had tipped past its point of relevance with the headline, “Saying ‘SXSW Is Over’ Is Over.” For SXSW co-founder and managing director Roland Swenson, those predictions go back even further. 

“We’ve had twenty years of people saying that it’s over,” Swenson says. “Every year, in the five weeks leading up to SXSW, we have a meeting where we bring in all the staff—which is now about 200 people—and one of the things that I’ve been doing for the past few years is I put up a projection of a headline from the Austin American-Statesman that says, ‘SXSW: How Big Is Too Big?’ and everybody looks at it like, ‘Oh, okay,” and I tell them, ‘That’s from 1991.’” 

Everybody Is Crowing about Johnny Manziel Checking Himself into Rehab

Capping off a month that saw anonymously-sourced reports snicker about how big a mess he was, Johnny Manziel checked himself into a treatment center last week. 

In some ways, Manziel—whose hard-partying “Johnny F—ing Football” persona combined with his on-field collegiate greatness to turn him into an icon—has seemed to be on a path of self-destruction for a while. But the dominant narrative about Manziel has celebrated him for his excess while he was dominant at Texas A&M, and then lampooned him for it after he went pro, which is a weird sort of pressure to put on a human being. 

Why It Matters That Austin's Black Population is Being Pushed to the Suburbs

Here’s a sobering demographic fact that came to national attention last year: Austin is the only large, fast-growing city whose African-American population is shrinking. Such was the troubling conclusion of a report authored by UT’s Professor Eric Tang and Postdoc Chunhui Ren, which analyzed US Census Bureau data. As The Texas Tribune wrote last year

“It is completely outside the norm,” said Eric Tang, an author of the report, which looked at cities of at least 500,000 residents that experienced a double-digit rate of population growth from 2000 to 2010. While Dr. Tang said researchers expected to find that Austin’s African-American population was not growing at the same rate as the general population, they did not expect to find a decline. None of the other cities examined, Dr. Tang said, showed a drop. 

As Austin’s population grew 20.4 percent from 2000 to 2010, its African-American population declined 5.4 percent. In contrast, the population of African-Americans increased for the Austin metropolitan region.

How Do We Feel about the Galveston Police Officer's Stunt Marriage Proposal?

Hey, Texas! How do we feel about public marriage proposal stunts? Do we kinda hate them? They’re the worst, right? I mean, sometimes somebody talks Tom Cruise into proposing to his girlfriend for him on live TV, and we all go, “Aww, Tom Cruise still possesses some shred of humanity,” and we acknowledge the cuteness of it before going back to our day. But often elaborate stunts stop being sweet (and occasionally start being illegal) the more we think about them. 


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