Curtis Graves doesn’t often talk about the past. On most days, he’s deliberating Hillary’s chances or fulminating about the tea party or weighing in on the Confederate flag debate. One of his favorite tangents is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, the conservative nonprofit that promoted the “stand your ground” bill central to the Trayvon Martin shooting case. “I mentioned ALEC at a dinner party last weekend, and people looked at me like I was crazy,” he said.
During these days of presidential jockeying—when we find ourselves bracing for a long-lasting spectacle of debates and speeches and politicians trying to prove their Spanish-language bona fides—it’s hard to remember a time when candidates did not have to aggressively court a diversity of voters to be elected to office.
The first column I wrote for Texas Monthly appeared in the March 2000 issue. The article was titled “Voting Rites,” and I argued that the Voting Rights Act, which Lyndon Johnson had proposed to a joint session of Congress 35 years earlier, was the greatest accomplishment of his presidency.
The most intense gigs are the small ones, he says. You can see the audience’s eyes, read their expressions, hear what they’re screaming between songs. He’s played a lot of those shows and finds the intimacy invigorating.
Of all the founding fathers of Texas, Stephen F. Austin seems the most remote. It is easy to imagine having a drink with Sam Houston, trading stories with Davy Crockett, or backing up Jim Bowie in a fight, but a convivial evening at Austin’s dining table is hard to imagine. He has come down to us as an austere and reserved figure.
Q: This spring I was driving from New Orleans to Austin, and a little west of Winnie it became obvious that some really bad weather lay ahead. By the time I was on Interstate 10, driving cautiously through a downpour near downtown Houston, I realized that I had no idea what I should do if I saw a tornado, which didn’t seem too far-fetched, considering the weather alerts blowing up on my phone and the cloud formations.
Tt happens every July of an odd-numbered year: Texas Monthly releases its Best and Worst Legislators story after having its politics team hunkered down in the Capitol the entire session. And upon its release, the letters, emails, tweets, and Facebook posts start flying. This time around was no different, with an avalanche of comments parsing every aspect of the list.
There’s never been a shortage of competition for the title of Worst Lawyer in Texas. A top contender for years was the now-deceased Joe Cannon, who slept through much of the 1984 capital murder trial of his client Calvin Burdine, resulting in a death sentence that was later overturned on appeal.
Carrizo Springs is a South Texas town full of people trying to pull oil out of the ground. Jim Henry isn’t one of them. He’s trying to pull oil out of trees. On a 67-acre ranch, three miles from the town center, the 68-year-old Dallas businessman cultivates an olive orchard with 40,000 trees. Many of them are regal, well-established specimens, the oldest planted seventeen years ago.