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.
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.
It may not come as a surprise for many of you who spend hours every day stuck in Austin, Dallas, or Houston traffic that a recent survey by Men’s Health magazine listed these cities as having some of the country’s most dangerous drivers.
The March 2012 issue of Men’s Fitness includes the magazine’s first “America’s Fattest Cities” survey since 2009, and yes … Houston, we have a problem. (We hate that cliché, too, but Men’s Fitness itself already claimed the stock “everything’s bigger” joke.)
As Nate Millard’s feature (which is not yet available online) began:
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.
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.
Here it is, on a coat hook in midtown Manhattan: the Army-issue green shirt, with “CBS NEWS” written in white letters on the ID tag, that Dan Rather wore in 1966 while hunkered down in rice paddie
In May of this year Woody Dinstel sat down at his desk in Houston to write a letter. First he looked at the watch. It was a gold Hamilton Masterpiece, slim and heavy. On the back was engraved WOODY DINSTEL UPON RETIREMENT FEBRUARY 1, 1978, EXXON.