I admire Mimi Swartz’s writing and enjoyed her article on Tony Buzbee [“Winner,” October 2019]. Buzbee seems to be a sort of clone of Trump, and Trump is not popular with a lot of people in Houston, but we are fed up with Mayor [Sylvester] Turner. Although Bill King has hardly any money to run a campaign, I hope he is the winner of the Houston mayoral election. I don’t know much about him, but I know too much about Turner and Buzbee to vote for either of them.
Barbara Duvall Wesolek, Houston
Mimi Swartz writes brilliant pieces about Houston. It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. [Buzbee] sounds like some well-known characters from when I lived in Houston thirty years ago.
Earlece Pearce, via Facebook
When the status quo candidates aren’t getting the job done, the door opens to outsiders.
Ted Miller, via Facebook
A new breed of politicians is coming: brash bulls in a china shop, thrashing around and upending everything as they upset a status quo that has outlived its usefulness. The question is, Are they competent enough to replace it with anything that works, or do they just kick up a lot of dust and inflate their oversized egos?
Benito Deepfried, via texasmonthly.com
Big Complex Thing
In regard to your October 2019 cover story [“The New Texas History”], I met Stephen Harrigan in Lockhart a few years ago when he was a guest author at a fundraising event at our local library. He mentioned his upcoming book [Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas], and we talked briefly about T. R. Fehrenbach’s Lone Star Texas history tome. I’ve started reading Big Wonderful Thing with well-met expectations that Mr. Harrigan has done our state a great favor in its writing, especially in his inclusive spirit of digging out the nuggets we never teach in our seventh grade Texas history classes.
I love the title coming from a famous non-Texan, and it brings to mind another visitor’s description of Texas: a different country entirely. That phrase came from Frederick Law Olmsted, a well-known New Englander, during his 1854 horseback tour of Texas. Olmsted didn’t like Texans very much, except maybe the German Texans around New Braunfels, most of whom shared his dim view of slavery.
Philip McBride, Lockhart
It was with great interest that I read “A State Forged in Blood,” especially the sad story of my relative Matilda Lockhart and the mention of Byrd Lockhart, Matilda’s uncle. Andrew Lockhart, Matilda’s father, was my great-great-great-great-uncle. Being a sixth-generation Texan, family history has always been meaningful to me, and seeing Matilda’s story in print was very satisfying.
As an addendum, after Matilda was returned to her family, she lived only another two or three years, finally succumbing to the terrible injuries and torture she had endured while being held captive by the Comanches. I look forward to reading Stephen Harrigan’s new book. Bringing attention to her story and the story of other early Texas settlers reinforces why others like me are often referred to as Proud Texans.
Jim Lockhart, Dallas
In the excerpt “Sediciosos,” I was disappointed to read an inaccurate retelling of my family’s history. My great-grandfather Antonio Longoria and my great-great-grandfather Jesus Bazán were upstanding, well-respected community leaders from landowning families. To suggest, as the excerpt does, that their murders were a case of mistaken identity is an affront to their memories and a disservice to those who have worked tirelessly to document and record the many atrocities suffered by Mexican Americans at the hands of the Texas Rangers in the early 1900s. I commend Texas Monthly and Mr. Harrigan for shining a light on the misrepresentations of Texas history and the countless injustices suffered silently through generations of Tejanos. However, when the perspectives of families most directly impacted by these injustices are not taken into account, it only adds insult to injury.
Bianca Rodriguez Bellavia, Austin
In Plain Sight
“The Hunt for the Serial Killer of Laredo” [October 2019] is a remarkable piece of work on a tragic and painful subject, given the terrible toll that it took on a community struggling under burdens most of us don’t usually talk about or understand. Jerry Solis’s [a friend of suspected serial killer David Ortiz] comment at the end says it all: “I’m not sure that there are any dots to connect.”
Of course, there aren’t any “dots” that could possibly explain the perpetrator or his victims in terms of the normal way we usually consider crimes and their punishment. But what makes your article exceptional for me is the light it shines on the dots that you have uncovered, if one is willing to expand one’s focus past the immediate insanity of the crime to consider the universe in which the tragedies occurred. The extreme unjustified poverty of these beautiful children who were murdered, their reliance on drugs, and the predicament of poverty and addiction that brought them to sell the only thing they had, their young bodies.
Thank you for writing an article that gave the reader enough information to avoid chalking the tragedy up to things that let us just blame the person who pulled the trigger or the women who “allowed themselves” to be victims and then brush it all under the rug. Instead, we see that we are all responsible to some extent for this tragic state of affairs.
Evelyn Chorush, Houston
Flip the Bird
I’m a native Texan (Tyler, 1974) and longtime Texas Monthly subscriber who has enjoyed [the Texanist’s] columns for years. The one about changing the state bird in the most recent issue, however, made me want to stand up and cheer. I think yours is a brilliant idea, so brilliant, in fact, that I have just written to my state representative and state senator (Charlie Geren and Jane Nelson, respectively). Each received the following message:
“In the October issue of Texas Monthly, columnist David Courtney, a.k.a. the Texanist, makes a compelling case for changing the state bird. Ours is the mockingbird, of course, as is the case for four other states. I am writing to second his solution. I am fully persuaded now that the Texas state bird should be Attwater’s prairie chicken. Will you bring forward legislation to make this happen?”
Scott Hackler, Fort Worth
Editors’ note: The Texanist, our long-serving agent of change, has perhaps struck again. After receiving Hackler’s plea, Nelson wrote to inform him that she would consider the Texanist’s proposal during the 2021 legislative session. However, after confirming to Texas Monthly that she would, in fact, do so (“As with all of my constituents, I welcome legislative ideas and carefully review them”), Nelson reiterated the Texanist’s preamble to his call for change. “Texas was the first to adopt the mockingbird as its state bird,” she said. “It is no surprise four neighboring states followed suit.”