I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in Matthew McConaughey’s dreamy eyes and pearly whites, but another cover story for this guy [“Dude!” October 2008]? What did he do this time, make another bad movie? Look, as a fellow Texan on the West Coast, I appreciate his drawl and Southern charm. But really, with all that’s going on in the world and in Texas, is there not something more interesting and urgent to be putting on the cover?
Brian Johnson
Los Angeles, California

Why would you ever think that Texans want to see Matthew McConaughey on the cover with his shirt on?! Next time think about your female readers!
Jody Schoth

You’re kidding, right? Pearls of wisdom from Matthew McConaughey? What’s next? Insights on life from Jessica Simpson?
Rex Freriks

Regarding the McConaughey story, I’m reminded of the pseudo-dental axiom: Eye candy equals intellectual cavities.
Michele Etier

Board Games

I was intrigued when I saw the article on the State Board of Education, seeing that I’m a sixth-grade science department chair in Houston [“How Well Do You Know Your State Board of Education?” October 2008]. I thought staging the article as a TAKS test was very clever. Probably every teacher, administrator, and school district has issues with the TAKS. However, I did not appreciate some of these “questions.” It seems as though the author has something against conservatives who believe in intelligent design, the Virgin Birth, and homeschooling their children.

As for the basis of the article, sure, many people do not understand how the curriculum standards are set, and I have my own qualms with the board. But this article makes me feel, as a teacher, that what I do isn’t valued. And as a conservative, I feel personally attacked. I’m sure everyone, liberal or conservative, minority or majority, could have been painted in the same light, but here it was done on the basis of belief and not on the lack of qualification (which is much more substantial).
Leslie Follmar

Bad Rapp

I could not believe Anne Rapp’s comment in “Everybody Must Get Stoned” about Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center [October 2008]. Calling it “the baby with the disability” is offensive on so many levels, and I was truly stunned that someone would compare a movie to a child who is not perfect in some people’s eyes. I usually do not put a lot of stock in being politically correct, but so many times the disabled are still a group that no one seems to mind disparaging.
Sandra Dargel

Hive Talkin’

Dan Winters’s honeybee pictures are works of art [“Flying Away,” October 2008]! My husband was beginning to learn beekeeping from his father at about the same time Dan became interested in bees. This was his lifelong profession until he died, at age 74, and his father’s until he passed, at age 104. I am glad they don’t know their beloved bees are disappearing.
Gwen Arnold
San Antonio

Law in Disorder

As the first assistant U.S. attorney for the Pecos Division and the only one to reside in Pecos, I know that Nate Blakeslee nailed it in his article on Randy Reynolds and the weird world that is law enforcement in the Pecos Valley [“The Reluctant Prosecutor,” October 2008]. Texas Monthly doesn’t always “get it” when it comes to West Texas, but it certainly did this time. But then most Texans east of San Angelo don’t know or understand West Texas either, much less the Trans-Pecos. There’s so much and so many there that are good, yet the corruption, counterintelligence, and drug culture Blakeslee described is why the biggest, most interesting, difficult, and tragic cases of my career were those I had out there. The article transported me: Luckily, it was a quick trip.
Linda B. Zeman
via e-mail

I am not a native Pecos Texan, but by fortune or providence, I was raised here. And I find myself challenged by some powerful forces to change our town’s negative perception, not perpetuate it. I am in quest of solutions to galvanize our community, not put it asunder. Texas Monthly’s precipitous, condescending article diminishes the cause prodigiously. Could your magazine offer some humanity, not ridicule? It would show grace if Pecos and the region were displayed in the full spectrum of time and their astounding contributions made to Texas and this nation as a whole. Please help us change the ugly perception by kindness in words.
Martin E. Arreguy

Cross Purposes

I read “Access Denied” and found it another in a series of gut-wrenching articles about how life on the last frontier is changing forever [October 2008]. The decision to tear down the Candelaria footbridge or prohibit border crossing at Lajitas and Boquillas will have no substantial impact on terrorism, illegal immigration, or drug smuggling. Those who desire to engage in clandestine activities will cross anyway, while the otherwise law-abiding folk who built symbiotic communities on both sides of the border will be hurt.

The people who make these policies can travel hundreds of miles along their Eastern Seaboard freeways and never really lose sight of civilization. In this corner of West Texas, the opposite is true. You can drive for miles and think you are alone in the universe. You can look at satellite imagery on the Internet, but you will never really grasp the expanse of wilderness between patches of civilization by looking at a picture or a map. People from these two extremes can never truly understand what it’s like in the other’s neck of the woods without being there and living it for a while.

I grew up in Brewster County and tramped around the southern extremes a bit in my youth. I’ve spent the past 22 years mostly away from my hometown, both in the U.S. and overseas. While I know that one can never really go home again, it still saddens me to see politicians and bureaucrats making policies that change the West Texas landscape forever. They render decisions based on a worldview that can never adequately grasp what is being destroyed or the futility of its actions. It seems such a waste, as so much is lost without any real impact on their stated intended goals.
Mike Jensen
Polaris Point, Guam