The Normal Heart (HBO, May 25)
“There are so many mad dogs in Denton county that people won’t send their children to school, and people riding about o’nights ride like Arabs on dromedaries, crossing their nice little legs in front of them.” —Weekly Democratic Statesman (Austin), June 3, 1875
From the witness stand, Sam Wyly didn’t look like a man who could upend the way the federal government prosecutes white-collar crime. The 79-year-old Dallas billionaire cupped his hand behind his ear to hear his lawyer’s questions. He admitted repeatedly to confusion about some of the key business transactions that had made him a billionaire. “I sometimes get it garbled in my mind,” he said when asked by the judge about inconsistencies in his testimony.
Technically speaking, Scoot McNairy does not live in the middle of nowhere: fifteen minutes down the road, you’ll find a grocery store, a post office, even an Italian restaurant; keep driving a hundred miles or so west, and eventually you’ll wend your way to Austin.
Thanks to the domino effect of Rick Perry’s retirement, an unusual number of high-profile Republican politicians have been vying for statewide office this year. Add to that the intensity that the tea party insurgency has brought to ideological debates within the GOP, and you’ve got a recipe for an extremely volatile primary season. Which is exactly what we’ve seen in the current election cycle, leading, as in 2012, to an atypically large number of runoff races. This year’s will be held on May 27.
For nine months, the same amount of time required to gestate a human being, real scientists at an actual university crunched data in order to answer a question that has never haunted anyone: Which big city in the United States is the funniest? They calculated the number of comedy clubs per square mile, surveyed comedians, and tracked visits to humorous websites.
As Kenneth McAlister drives down the buff caliche roads of Wichita County, he points out the changed landscape: Receding stock tanks wreathed with hoofprints. Dust whipping over a naked field and its failed cotton crop. Prickly pear multiplying like a virus, covering this country in a way it never has before. “It makes me wonder if the desert’s on its way,” he says.
When the INRIX company released its annual list of America’s most congested cities, the big news for Texans was that for the second year in a row, Austin was ranked the fourth-most-congested city in America—up from sixth two years ago and ninth the year before that. But though Austin is certainly home to migraine-inducing traffic jams, its ranking obscures the fact that in Texas, Houston (number seventeen on INRIX’s list) is, in many ways, the king of congestion.