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. 

Thu November 20, 2014 10:07 am By Andrea Valdez

Texas Monthly December 2014 cover fine destination dining
Unless it’s one of the places featured in our December issue cover story. 

Holiday season is upon us, a time when we dream of comfort food of all stripes, goblets of eggnog, or better yet, a scenario when someone else does the cooking for us, and then turns down the bed after a blissful foot-rub. To that end, we compiled a list of ten far-flung travel destinations that specialize in fine dining in first-class style. And be warned: If you make the Wanderer travel a long ways and lay down a king’s ransom to stay at your hotel, your operation better be tight or she’ll call you right out. 

Switching gears, on November 4, when you exercised the privilege of casting a ballot (and if you didn’t, it better be because you voted early!), you may have noticed it was the first gubernatorial election in 12 years that Rick Perry, Texas’s longest-serving governor, wasn’t on the ticket. To help put his tenure in some perspective, I’ve never known another governor of our state in my adult life. For what is probably better context of what those fourteen years really mean, check out this nifty infographic. Speaking of those elections, due to the power of the Internet, the day after the votes were tallied, we released Editor-in-Chief Brian D. Sweany’s unsolicited—though excellent—advice to our governor-elect, Greg Abbott. (And also speaking of free advice you’ll wanna read, this guy dispenses the sage stuff each month.) Senior editor Erica Grieder also unleashed some political knowledge on our readers in the immediate aftermath of the elections, with an in-depth profile of Dan Patrick, our new lieutenant governor, the most powerful elected official in Texas. She also conducted an exit interview with the outgoing guy. 

If you’re not quite ready to look too far ahead into our political future, perhaps you can gaze backwards a bit longer. Learn more about the seventy-year-old murder case that still haunts Texarkana, or Buddy Holly’s famous glasses. Imagine a time when Austin was overrun by tramps, the precursor to hipsters. Or transport yourself back to 1949, when an all-but-forgotten teenager from Houston invented rock and roll. But don’t look back too long lest you fall victim to good-ol’-days syndrome, an affliction currently crippling Radioshack (I mean, c’mon guys, using Weird Al as your holiday spokesman? You can do better than that.)

But, wait, wait, let’s look back just a bit longer. At the year the magnificent Michael Hall has had. It has been a banner year for Mike. He alerted people to “The Greatest Music Producer You’ve Never Heard Of.” He gave a voice to Richard LaFuente, a man who served more than two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He edited a powerful essay written by a man who watched the person who murdered his father be put to death. And before there was Serial, the number-one downloaded podcast in America, Mike wrote a five-part 25,000-word opus reported over the course of a year that’s already been optioned by some Hollywood types. He wrote a beautiful, award-deserving story about fiddling. And then he closes it all out this month with this gripping and powerful tale about Charles Moore, the reverend who set himself on fire in the parking lot of a Dollar General in Grand Saline last year. There’s a ton more Mike wrote this year (seriously, check his contributor page out), so drop him a line and let him know how much you appreciate his excellent journalism. Though he might not respond immediately because he’ll be too busy working. 

The rest of the December issue is fabulous too. Read it from beginning to end. And if you’re consuming it online, on your tablet, or on your phone, please don’t hesitate to email me with questions/comments/concerns.

Tue November 18, 2014 12:20 pm By Texas Monthly Staff

This holiday season, as you traverse the roads of Texas, you’ll no doubt consume a dangerous amount of Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets and Whataburger What-a-Meals. Even a sit-down meal at a small-town cafe—which we love as much as the next Texan—could leave you wanting for something a little different than burgers and chicken-fried steaks.

So before you hit the highways, pick up a copy of our December issue, which features our list of ten far-flung destinations whose impressive food and memorable settings are not only worth traveling for, but deserve an overnight stay. This exhaustively researched list comes from a small but stalwart band of our writers who traveled several thousand miles to uncover ten places where the food is so tempting, the beds so Goldilocks-worthy, and the sights so seeable that you could easily make them a weekend’s destination. Our choices range from a gracious Victorian manse in East Texas to a stylishly rehabilitated railroad hotel in West Texas.

To help you get a jump on reservations, we’ve provided the list below. But if you want to know what makes them worth the visit, pick up our December issue, on newsstands Thursday: 
 
  • Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, in Glen Rose
  • Fire Oak Grill, in Weatherford
  • Stillwater Inn, in Jefferson
  • Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek, in Kyle
  • Rancho Loma, in Talpa
  • Vaudeville, in Fredericksburg
  • Inn at Dos Brisas, in Washington
  • Gage Hotel, in Marathon
  • The Turtle, in Brownwood
  • Maiya’s, in Marfa