Mark K. Updegrove

Mark K. Updegrove

Growing up in Philadelphia, Mark K. Updegrove collected autographs of living presidents, and he still counts a boyhood glimpse of Gerald Ford in a bicentennial parade as a formative experience. Now that he’s the director of the LBJ Library, in Austin, and a noted presidential historian, his hobby is his livelihood. He’s found one common thread in his conversations with four former presidents, including George W. Bush (“ Bush 2.0 ”). “They all talk about Lincoln as the archetype, about the grace he showed. If they think they’ve had a bad day, they think about the burden heaped on him.”

Sterry Butcher

Sterry Butcher

After watching horse trainer Teryn Lee Muench win third place in the Extreme Mustang Makeover last year, Big Bend Sentinel reporter Sterry Butcher decided to follow him through this year’s competition (“ Gentling Cheatgrass ”). “It would have been a terrific story even if he hadn’t made the finals,” she says. Butcher, who grew up in Fort Worth, now lives in Marfa, where she keeps three horses, Alazan, Mouse, and Concho.

Patricia Sharpe

Patricia Sharpe

Tex-Mex is our comfort food, but it’s the past,” says executive editor Patricia Sharpe, whose third exhaustive survey of the state’s Mexican food joints (“ Let’s Have Mex-Tex ” ) exposes a controversial, if unsurprising, truth: When it comes to Texas cuisine, Mex is supplanting Tex. Though she’s quick to champion new flavors from Mexico’s interior, Sharpe knows old-school favorites die hard. “People cling to tradition,” she says. “Case in point: I just had chicken enchiladas for lunch.”

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