A steady stream of books about Texas is published every year, yet to date no one has written a history of the transformations that our cities have undergone in the past forty years. But perhaps no one needs to. That history can already be found in the archives of this magazine. Looking through the first 480 issues of Texas Monthly in chronological order, one can witness the profound shifts of the past four decades in vivid detail.
A great capital city, most everyone would agree, should be representative of the state or nation over which it presides. It should be preeminent not only in size but also in learning, power, and wealth. You might say a capital should be a state or nation’s one indispensable city, the sort of hub that back in the Cold War days was on the short list of places the Russkies would nuke if they had only a few warheads to toss our way.
In Texas, that city is not Austin.
Every January of an odd-numbered year, Austin is overrun by lawmakers who arrive to begin a new legislative session. No one knows more about that experience than Midland’s Tom Craddick, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1968 and served as Speaker from 2003 to 2009. He was sworn in for his twenty-third term last month.
Q: Yesterday on my way home I sat on MoPac for hours. Can you tell me why?
Okay, so Mount Bonnell isn’t really a mountain. It’s more like a hill, a limestone crag—the Slacker of mountains, which is perfect, seeing as part of that underachiever-glorifying movie was shot here. In the last scene a handful of twentysomethings run to the summit through the cedar and oak trees, just as young folks have done since the days of the Comanche. They come to look at and listen to the world below. To drink and get high. To whisper and grope.
One Saturday night three years or so ago, I celebrated the impending nuptials of two friends at a dinner party in East Austin. Much wine was drunk, and, I’m relatively certain, at least one joint was passed in the backyard. Not bad, I thought, for a bunch of thirty- and forty-somethings. After dessert, the more resilient of us opted to take the party public.
In 1968, five years before this magazine was born, I published—with Bill and Sally Wittliff’s elegant, Austin-based Encino Press—a slim book of essays called In a Narrow Grave, a title derived from a well-known range cattle ballad, “The Dying Cowboy.” No New York publisher had the slightest interest in the book. The dying cowboy of the lament asked his comrades to fling a handful of roses o’er his grave and pray the Lord his soul to save.
Houston, Dallas, and Austin are cities with some of the most fatal car crashes involving intoxication in the country, according to a report that analyzed incidents in the country’s 25 most populous cities. Houston ranked second, Dallas fifth, and Austin seventh, with Fort Worth close behind at number 13 in the study recently put out by software company IDV Solutions on their UXBlog.
Sally Ride, who became NASA's first woman in space in 1983, died of pancreatic cancer Monday. She was 61.