Mon April 20, 2015 4:27 pm By Andrea Valdez

As our editor-in-chief Brian D. Sweany explained in his editor’s letter, this month marks the fifth time Big Bend’s impressive vistas have graced our cover. So while it might appear to some as though we’re, ahem, treading the same territory, given the majesty of one of our state’s most remote areas—and the fact that it sadly remains one of the National Parks System’s least visited parks—it seems appropriate to return to this land that we love and trumpet its astounding beauty.  

Or, for some, it was a good reason to visit the park in the first place. That’s exactly what Ryan Kuehl, a producer with Bourke Productions, did. He—along with Chris Bourke, the company’s cinematographer and editor, and Ryan Farmer, a directormade the trek from Austin to far West Texas to shoot a short film capturing the area’s seemingingly infintite sights and attractions. “The three of us had been talking about either shooting a short film or taking a camping trip, and Big Bend gave us the excuse to do both,” Kuehl said. The resulting product is a stunning two-minute journey through Big Bend that shows just how vast the 800,000-acre park is. 

As everyone is when they encounter the area, they were stunned by its beauty. “Santa Elena Canyon certainly had a lasting affect on us,” Kuehl said. “The canyon wall, which prominently juts out to form the Mexico border, is a humbling reminder of the powerful and patient forces that sculpted the landscape.”

Below, their video, which paints a more vivid picture than these words ever could:

 
Fri February 13, 2015 10:37 am By Brian D. Sweany

Texas is no stranger to hot-button issues in the Legislature—abortion, gun rights, immigration—but the one that has the power to reshape the state in a truly profound way is now making national headlines as it winds its way through the courts: same-sex marriage. That’s the subject that Pamela Colloff, who was nominated for a National Magazine Award for last year’s story on the death penalty, takes up in “To Love and to Cherish” from the March 2015 issue, which will hit newsstands and be posted online next week. Here’s a sneak peek at the cover, which was shot by LeAnn Mueller:

Pam’s story focuses on Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, a couple who live in Austin with their two-year-old son and a baby on the way. They filed suit against the State of Texas in 2013 (the case before the Fifth Circuit is De Leon v. Perry), charging that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. As Pam writes:

The lawsuit coincides with a fundamental change taking place in the country at large. Less than two years after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor—which gutted the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman—11 states have legalized same-sex marriage, and judicial rulings have brought it to 25 more states. Texas, which passed a constitutional ban a decade ago with 76 percent of the vote, is one of the last, stubborn holdouts, though recent polls suggest that opposition around the state is also declining. Last fall, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of registered voters found that 47 percent of respondents said they did not believe gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry; 42 percent supported same-sex marriage; and 11 percent were undecided.

The recent news in Alabama indicates that the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear marriage cases later this year, may be inclined to strike down state bans entirely. Until then Cleo and Nicole will have to wait for the drama to unfold:  “Until the Supreme Court rules—or until the Fifth Circuit decides to act—nothing is certain for Cleo and Nicole, who are having to again draw up second-parent adoption papers so that Cleo can secure parental rights to their baby girl.”

Sun December 28, 2014 10:15 am By Texas Monthly Staff

Revisit (or devour for the first time) Texas Monthly’s fifteen most-read longform stories of 2014.

1. The Murders at the Lake

Michael Hall • April 2014
In 1982 three teenagers were killed near the shores of Lake Waco in a seemingly inexplicable crime. More than three decades later, the tragic and disturbing case still casts a long, dark shadow.

2. The Witness

Pamela Colloff • September 2014
For more than a decade, Michelle Lyons’s job required her to watch condemned criminals be put to death. After 278 executions, she won’t ever be the same.

3. Sinners in the Hands

Sonia Smith • February 2014
Twenty-seven-year-old Catherine Grove is a member of a small, insular, and eccentric church in East Texas. Her parents think she’s being brainwashed. She insists she’s being saved.

4. He Ain’t Going Nowhere

John Spong • January 2014
As the godfather of Nashville songwriters, Guy Clark has survived more than forty years of late-night partying and arduous touring—and suffered the loss of those he loved most. Yet somehow his genius is as sharp as ever.

5. The Girl Who Saw Too Much

Skip Hollandsworth • March 12, 2014
Robin Doan was ten years old when a stranger killed her entire family. Nearly ten years later, she refuses to let the past haunt her.

6. “I Would Only Rob Banks for My Family”

Skip Hollandsworth • June 2014
Scott Catt was a single dad who held up banks to make ends meet. As his greed intensified, he knew just whom to enlist as accomplices: his kids.

7. Honey, I Want to Move to Mars

Jason Stanford • April 3, 2014
My wife is a semifinalist to board a one-way mission to the Red Planet. I’m proud, happy, and thrilled for her. Now, do you want to know how I really feel about it?

8. A Question of Mercy

Pamela Colloff • March 2014
In 1998, when district attorney Tim Cole sent a teenager named Randy Wood to prison for murder, he was convinced he’d given the boy the punishment that his brutal crime deserved. Now, more than fifteen years later, as Wood serves a life sentence, Cole is not so sure.

9. Man on Fire

Michael Hall • December 2014
The Reverend Charles Moore ardently dedicated his life to the service of God and his fellow man. But when he couldn’t shake the thought that he hadn’t done enough, he drove to a desolate parking lot in his hometown of Grand Saline for one final act of faith.

10. A Shooting on Spring Grove Avenue

Skip Hollandsworth • November 2014
When Michael Burnside was found dead in his Dallas home four years ago, detective Dwayne Thompson decided that the victim’s girlfriend, Olivia Lord, had pulled the trigger. But as the case made its way through the courts, she maintained her innocence—and claimed Thompson was the one who should go to prison.


11. Confessions of a Fat Bastard

Daniel Vaughn • September 2014
The joys and perils (but mostly joys) of being the nation’s first full-time barbecue editor.

12. The Click Clique

Francesca Mari • September 2014
How Dallas’s Amber Venz transformed a stylish group of young bloggers into a powerful force in the world of fashion—and made them rich along the way.

13. Is This the Most Dangerous Man in Texas?

Skip Hollandsworth • August 2014
University of Texas regent Wallace Hall has been accused of leading a witch hunt against UT-Austin president William Powers. But the Dallas investor insists he’s doing his job. And he doesn’t care what you think.

14. Man About Town

Katy Vine • May 2014
How Houston Rapper Bun B became his city’s leading man.

15. The Man in the Arena

Erica Grieder • February 2014
In the brief time Ted Cruz has been a senator, he has managed to convince half the country that he is a true patriot and the other half that he is a dangerous nutcase. What will he do next?

Wed December 10, 2014 5:10 pm By Texas Monthly Staff

Was 2014 the year of the Un–Bum Steer? So many of our usual suspects behaved themselves (more or less) that we wondered if something was amiss. Texas A&M didn’t do anything too Aggie-like, the Dallas Cowboys were actually in the playoff hunt for a change, and Matthew McConaughey minded his p’s and q’s while picking up an Oscar along the way. 

Thankfully, politics didn’t let us down. Governor Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury for abusing his power and coercing a public servant, and he celebrated having his mug shot taken with a jaunt to buy frozen custard. Good ol’ Louie Gohmert, the Republican congressman from Tyler, offered up plenty of laughs—intentional or otherwise—which made us think he was in on the joke. But nothing, and we mean nothing, could match the train wreck that was Wendy Davis, Battleground Texas, and the Democrats. 

No one suggested that 2014 would be the year that the party roared back to life. No one argued that the Democrats would put the Republicans in a tough spot come Election Day. But did anyone think that Davis, after all the national exposure and all the money that flowed into her coffers, would be throttled so badly by Republican Greg Abbott in her race to become governor? In the end, she lost by more percentage points than Tony Sanchez did in 2002. And she won 270,499 fewer votes than Bill White did in 2010 in his doomed effort against Perry. It’s not that the Democrats underperformed. It’s that the party that hasn’t won a statewide race since 1994 actually dug itself an even deeper hole! 

For Davis, her campaign started poorly—this magazine compared her rollout to the debut of the Bag o’ Glass from Mainway Toys—and things seemed to only go downhill from there. Infighting! Staff shake-ups! Tension with the press! Missteps over her own biography! And to add insult to injury, after the dust had settled, the state Senate seat she gave up to run against Abbott was claimed by a Republican. Davis may be out of politics for now, but she didn’t walk away empty-handed: she is our Bum Steer of the Year.

Wed December 10, 2014 3:05 pm By Andrea Valdez

Last Friday we sent our January issue to the printer, and our Bum Steer of the Year is splashed right across the cover. For those not familiar with the Bum Steers Awards, it’s a Texas Monthly tradition dating back to 1974, an annual celebration of the nitwits and knuckleheads that made news across the state—and nation—for misbehaving and doing/saying generally dumb things. 

Now, the Bum Steer of the Year Award is a special dishonorable distinguishment bestowed upon those who have made particularly egregious missteps. Top honors have gone to Lance Armstrong, after his big reveal that he was, in fact, doping; Rick Perry, after the “Oops” heard across America; Dick Cheney, for shooting a man; and Jerry Jones, for, well, being Jerry Jones. 

Early Thursday morning, we’ll announce the 2015 Bum Steer of the Year, but until then, tell us who you think should get the prize.