The 750- square-foot shop behind Bob Sarrels’s Manchaca home is a bow hunter’s dream. A shoulder mount of Peaches, a 275-pound wild hog—and the star of Sarrels’s most thrilling hunting story—presides over his desk. Rows of traditional bows, handmade from exotic woods like cocobolo, pau ferro, and Osage orange, line the walls of his small office. As Clint Black’s “Killin’ Time” plays on the radio, a friend (and fellow bow maker) drops by to use the shop’s band saw.
Shawne Somerford stares across the Marshall town square in the direction of the federal courthouse. I’ve just asked her if she’s worried that Congress might put her restaurant, the Blue Frog Grill, out of business. She smiles faintly and shrugs. “Tomorrow it could all be gone,” she says.
The morning that the music video for her new song “Rainy Day Woman” premiered online, Kat Edmonson had a revelation in the shower of her Brooklyn apartment.
“I was feeling so grateful for what I get to do,” said Edmonson, the 31-year-old singer-songwriter from Houston. She had just watched her video, which was directed by Robert Ascroft and was modeled after ’60s-style films like “Charade” and “Blow-Up.”
Before the dog days of summer run their course in Texas—which is probably not any time soon—this month’s Texas wine pick is a perfect patio sipper designed to evoke sentimental memories of taking a dip in your favorite Texas swim spot. Whether it’s a spring-fed river, a lanquid lake, a quite strip of coastal beach, or simply your backyard pool, this refreshing white wine is a perfect way to bid a fond farewell to summer.
When Qui opened last year, it did so to a seemingly endless amount of hype. One year in, the bar at Qui is at the top of its game, having won the 2014 Official Drink of Austin competition (presented by the Austin Food and Wine Alliance and yours truly) with a boozed-up tepache, a fermented-pineapple beverage popular in Mexico.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—unless it’s on a Greyhound bus.
It was the winter of 2012, and 34-year-old Michael Fojtasek had some time between jobs. He and his partner, Grae Nonas, 28, also a chef, badly wanted to open a restaurant in Austin, their adopted home. Fojtasek had grown up in Dallas in a family with Southern roots, and his enthusiasm had rubbed off on Nonas, who is from New England.
When members of our staff look back at an issue after it returns from the printer, there’s always a sense of pride in our accomplishments, whether it’s a striking cover image (check) or a strong lineup of stories complemented by beautiful design and photography (check and check). Each issue also seems to require the herculean efforts of a particular person, and for this issue that would be our deputy editor, Katharyn Rodemann.
Her seated posture is perfect. Her hands are tightly clasped and laid squarely in her lap. Then, singing from her diaphragm—the way the great ones do—Lee Ann Womack reminds us that her voice is just as disciplined. Immediately, Womack’s suite at Austin’s tony Hotel Saint Cecilia, designed as a tribute to the decadence of the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. period, is transformed into a house of worship.
An exclusive excerpt from Domingo Martinez’s new memoir, My Heart Is a Drunken Compass.
My girlfriend, Sarah, is holding me by the elbow as I trudge slowly to the busier part of my Seattle neighborhood, an intersection of Asian-fusion restaurants and the hangover hookup bar that seems to be in constant operation. She’s persuaded me to wrap my neck in a scarf; put my coat over my decaying cashmere sweater, which I’ve been wearing for three days now; and leave my apartment for the first time in days. I’ve listened to Sarah, and I’ve done all this with a sense of catatonic disengagement.
It’s mid-February 2010, three days since I was taken to the emergency room at Swedish Medical after ripping one of my arms to shreds in a psychotic break at three a.m., alone in my bathroom. Blame a combination of Xanax, some SSRI that had kept me awake for four days, and a steady intake of gin—gin to quiet the shouting in my head, gin to thicken my terror to a sludge, gin to drown out the crushing sense of guilt I felt the moment I awoke during those rare times I could actually get about twenty continuous minutes of sleep. Gin turned the Xanax and the serotonin inhibitors into assassins, and I finally gave up, found an old-fashioned double-sided razor blade, and went at my left wrist, working for the one deep cut that would end it, end all of this, in a bathtub, alone in darkest, wettest February, as I sucked down one last Pabst Blue Ribbon for courage, or self-pity.
“Can you do this?” Sarah asks me now, as I’m stumbling along and beginning to breathe shallowly, quickly, in fear. People are going about their business, crossing the street against the light, drivers avoiding them and making abrupt turns, people meandering on an otherwise unexceptional weekday, and my blood is pumping with cortisol and anxiety, and I am feeling very much like I want to run again, and hide again, and get underground again, and pull the door shut behind me.
“No,” I say. “I don’t feel like I’m a part of this anymore.”
How do these people function day to day? How do they step up onto a bus, ride a bike to work, shop for groceries when at any minute their foundation could be pulled out from under them? They slip through life like people who have not experienced horror, move around as if their closest loved one did not die horribly just a few days ago, as if their children are not at the mercy of a maniac with a rifle and low self-esteem, as if nature is not out to kill them and their families.
At 4:25 a.m. on March 17, 2007, I received a call from Robert, my mother’s second husband, his voice teeming with controlled hysteria as he drove west from Houston at top speed.
“I’m calling for your mother,” he said. “Derek had an accident in Austin. He’s in the hospital there, and we’re on our way now. He’s still alive, but they say it’s serious and they want your mother there. He’s going to have surgery in the next hour. That’s all we know right now.”
I didn’t hear a word from my mother, Velva, who I imagined was in a collapsed bundle in the passenger seat, crying. So I didn’t ask Robert anything. I just sat on the side of my bed in Seattle, where I’d been in semi-exile from my family for the past eighteen years, and waited for the next phone call.
Derek, the youngest of five children, had always been the lost sheep. He was still in elementary school when our mother left our father, fed up with his years of drunken behavior and philandering, and Derek suffered from it in a way the rest of us hadn’t, forced to live in a small Brownsville apartment with my mother rather than benefiting from the embrace of a large family. As a bored teenager he was drawn to the dangerous, which, in Brownsville, can become incredibly dangerous incredibly quickly. Eventually our mother tearfully shipped him off to live with our sister Mare and her husband, Mark, in Corpus Christi. It was then that, to our collective astonishment, he straightened himself out and graduated as valedictorian of his high school class. When he left South Texas for UT, we thought he had put his troubles behind him.
But the burden of being the youngest was crushing, with every one of his siblings holding a degree of authority over him and exercising it in the vacuum created by a family in partial disarray. He was a good kid, and yet his time with Mark and Mare, learning to be the perfect kid, spun him tight, and tighter still, and when he made it to Austin on a full scholarship, he spun out of control.
Derek did anything anyone threw at him. There was simply no stopping how much he would drink, how much he’d snort or take: he could consume triple or quadruple what you thought was too much.
He had our Martinez peasant stamina, our crazy Mexican strength. He was Dumbo, made out of rubber. His optimistic stupidity made him love and trust everyone around him, and they loved and trusted him back, because he was nothing if not an incredibly likable kid.
That was the problem: you combine this pastiche personality with his penchant for addiction, and it points you toward the cliff edge.
Every semester, Derek would beg the family for money to pay fees and fines to the university or to the rubbish fraternity where he was homesteading. He’d beg for a reprieve, beg for that second chance, just $200 from this person, $800 from that family member, please, please, please.
He’d wear the family down, make my brother-in-law crack open his checkbook from fatigue and disgust, saying, “It’s not about the money, Derek. It’s just this lying …”
“Please, it’ll be different this time.”
“You know what you’re going to do if you go back.”
“No, I promise I won’t. I need to finish this.”
Once the check was signed, he’d disappear again for three or four months, communicating exclu-sively by text message, usually something garbled and nonsensical sent at three a.m. I vacillated between a desire to fly to Austin and beat him and six of his closest friends senseless and a desire to hold him down and just hug the broken homunculus inside him and have him cry it all out.
If Jim Hogan, the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner, had his way, his race against Republican Sid Miller would be determined using a novel approach. “I’d tell everybody to Google my name, and then I’d tell them to Google Sid Miller’s name,” Hogan says. “We could settle the whole election according to whose Google profile the voters found more appealing.” That may seem like a strange way to approach a political campaign, but Hogan is not your ordinary candidate.