This Is Texas

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.

Horsemen, Goodbye

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 bar OKRA Charity Saloon gets a mention in The New York Times

Yesterday, The New York Times featured a story on a new breed of bars popping up around the United States: charitable bars. The newspaper noted that a “new generation of beer halls dedicated to something beyond the cash register is cropping up around the nation and the world, with proceeds going not into an owner’s wallet but to charity…”

One of the philanthropic bars mentioned in the story included the Original OKRA Charity Saloon, which opened in Houston last month. Every month, the bar allows patrons to vote which Houston-based charity should receive the bar’s proceeds from that month.

King Creole

I walked into Underbelly the other night and straight into a bear hug from chef-owner Chris Shepherd. And I wasn’t the only one. Every woman that the extroverted Houston chef had ever met before, plus random strangers who were looking a little jealous, also received a hug. I’m not sure what male customers got, maybe a fist bump, possibly a headlock.

Home Front Lines

As I write this, stories about Major Malik Nadal Hasan’s rampage at Fort Hood have begun to vanish from the front pages of newspapers and the TV news, displaced by health care, the holidays, and Tiger Woods. It has not even been a month, but already the worst mass shooting at an Army base in U.S. history is old news. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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