John O’Quinn wanted to be the best lawyer who ever lived. And for a while, it looked as if that was going to happen. He certainly was one of the most successful—and one of the richest. But the power he wielded and the money he spent didn’t lead to happiness. That changed when the Houston trial lawyer began seeing Darla Lexington, who friends say transformed his life for the better.
Every February, I try to tease out the culinary trends of the ten best new restaurants that opened the year before. This time, “local,” “comfort food,” and “affordable” are the words du jour. Happily, under that umbrella there is plenty of variety: Number four is a bistro/chophouse. Number five draws on familiar dishes from many different cultures. Number seven is Tuscan with a Texan accent. And number nine specializes in Mexican street food, a.k.a. Spanish-speaking comfort food.
Something had clearly gone wrong. It was the evening before Election Day, and I was standing in the shadow of Loop 610 in Houston in front of the strip mall headquarters of the tea party group known as the King Street Patriots. Amid the bustle of volunteers, I had managed to locate the group’s founder and president, Catherine Engelbrecht, a tall, comely German American, and she seemed amenable to letting me spend Election Day with her outfit, provided I call her attorney to make sure it was kosher.
I don’t know if it was the unsettled economy, climate change, the Saturn-Uranus opposition, or what, but the past year’s new restaurants were a confounding mix of high highs and low lows. To start with the good tidings, five of Texas’ star chefs launched new operations this year. Equally promising, four relative newcomers are causing a stir.
Quincy, the amazing bloodhound, sniffed the air around the body of Sally Blackwell, who lay half-naked in a field just outside Victoria. Blackwell, a supervisor for Child Protective Services, had been missing for a day when a county-road crew found her in a brushy field on March 15, 2006. She had been strangled with a rope, which was still on her body.
Before becoming a national Thanksgiving novelty, the deep-fried turkey was a simple meal developed in bayou country, the region stretching from southeast Texas to southeast Louisiana. “People out there already owned big stockpots for crawfish boils, so of course they began thinking, ‘What else can I stick in here?’ ” says Charles Clark, who grew up along the Sabine River and now owns the Houston restaurant Ibiza.
The beige building on South Braeswood Boulevard looks run-down for the Meyerland section of Houston, which helps explain why the Hebrew academy formerly housed there left for better quarters. The interior offers little to improve that first impression. Painted in shades of light yellow and green, the narrow hallways, though lined with pennants from dozens of colleges, do not inspire. The library/computer lab is a dark, low-ceilinged room partly lit by a string of white Christmas lights.
Galveston, May 18, 2008
He stands at the lip of the bowl, which looks like a giant, empty swimming pool, and gazes at the brand-new concrete. He plops down his skateboard and sets his left foot on top of it, rolling it back and forth a few times near the edge. Except for his blue jeans, he’s wearing all black—shoes, T-shirt, cap—and looks like any other skinny ten-year-old, except for the hospital band on his right wrist.
Coach Art Briles has an eye for talent. You don’t win four state high school championships without knowing how to spot a top-notch football player where others see just another kid. Following his first season as a college head coach at the University of Houston, Briles had his eye on the future. He had a star quarterback in Kevin Kolb who would guide his team through the next three seasons, but he also needed a successor.