We’ve waded into many heated debates over the years: corn versus flour, UT versus A&M, and sauce versus no sauce (that last one isn’t really a debate, but you get the idea). It happened again last month when we put Houston Rockets guard James Harden on the cover under the refrain “MVP! MVP! MVP!” We heard howls of protests from our friends in San Antonio; the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard is having his own spectacular season. There are compelling arguments on both sides, and we can all agree that one of them should win the NBA’s most valuable player award rather than Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook. We can also all agree that it’s truly special to have two of basketball’s best players in our state. Of course, someone has to own bragging rights, and perhaps the only way to settle this feud is if the Spurs and Rockets meet in the playoffs. We can hope, can’t we?


Harden Fast

Harden is very, very good, no doubt [“Star Rocket in Flight”]. But the best NBA player in Texas lives in San Antonio. Kawhi Leonard is the true 2016–17 MVP, and he doesn’t have to promote himself.
A. Hamilton, via texasmonthly.com

“James Harden Is Bigger Than Basketball,” by James Harden.
Lee Hurtado, via Facebook

Fear the Beard!
John, via texasmonthly.com

Durag Splinter, via texasmonthly.com

Before I even opened the April issue, I was amazingly surprised to see it was still titled Texas Monthly. However, it became clear that you are on the verge of changing your name to “Houston Monthly.” Your cover totally disgusted me. Scanning the article, I was not able to find any mention of the true MVP (Kawhi Leonard). You obviously no longer represent Texas. As soon as you change the name, please cancel my subscription.
Les Shafer, San Antonio 


Excellent, beautifully written piece examining a very complicated story that involves, at best, incompetence, at worst, malevolence [“The Trouble With Innocence”]. Michael Hall writes, “Who would sabotage an exoneration forged after 39 years of heartbreaking struggle? Kerry Max Cook would. And he has his reasons.” Kerry has struggled his entire adult life to bring the truth of his story into the daylight. This piece is long overdue.
Kim Wozencraft, via Facebook

If someone told me this story, I would not believe it could be true. These people must be held accountable, and Kerry Cook must be declared innocent. Thank you, Texas Monthly, for exposing this corruption and the trauma that one person has suffered. My heart breaks over and over for Kerry Cook and his family, and for Linda Edwards and her family, knowing her killer has been free all these years. Disgusting.
Maggie Zamanian, via texasmonthly.com

I was an appellate prosecutor in Erie County (Buffalo), New York, for thirty years. For the past five years I have done criminal defense work. As a prosecutor I worked on several matters involving the Innocence Project (and Ms. [Nina] Morrison). Your article on Kerry Cook was a pleasure to read. You beautifully captured the dynamics of these matters. There are deep and powerful emotional and psychological elements. Criminal cases in general are often not as clear-cut as people suppose, not necessarily (or even mostly) with respect to objective guilt but to the degree of guilt. An article about a person who was guilty of manslaughter and not murder will never be printed (I suspect), although to the accused, the distinction has consequences involving years of incarceration. A manslaughter conviction in a murder case can seem like a loss to the prosecution. [Michael Hall is] a very good writer, and I wish [him] the best.
Michael Marion, Buffalo, New York

Just like everything else in this world, it comes down to money. If [the state] admits that this man is innocent, well, there will be a payout, and rightfully so. How much is a life of torture and suffering worth? They don’t want us to find out.
Jennifer Scully, via texasmonthly.com

Kerry Max Cook isn’t alone.
Clay S. Conrad, via texasmonthly.com

No. There has been no accounting of the lives ripped apart by Smith County’s corrupt, results-oriented “legal system” that persecutes based on race, sexual orientation, and more. Ask me. I am an encyclopedia on Smith County.
Kerry Max Cook, via texasmonthly.com

Reel Talk

As one of the handful of non-Texans who’s actually had a chance to meet the man himself, this was a great profile and, in the very literary sense of the word, an epic read [“The Not-So-Secret Life of Terrence Malick”]. More importantly, it taught me about the Malick-Zoolander birthday video, and now I have a reason to live.
Project 2501, via texasmonthly.com

This article really meant a lot to me. I seriously have waited so long to read something so extensive about Mr. Malick and written so beautifully. Thank you.
Todd Webb, via texasmonthly.com

Natural Wander

Your article on the survival program at Camp Cullen [“Born to Be Wild”] highlighted the psychological and physical importance of encouraging children (and adults) to spend more time outdoors. YMCA camps such as Cullen and Camp Flaming Arrow, near Kerrville, are hidden Texas treasures. They provide safe, affordable opportunities for children to make friends and learn to be comfortable outside. Imagine how much better the world would be if we all went to summer camp!
Mary McNaughton-Cassill, San Antonio

Last Writes

Sad to hear of the death of Gary Cartwright [“The Writer’s Life”]. He was a great writer, and we were lucky to read his articles in Texas Monthly. When he came to El Paso to promote the book he wrote about El Paso’s Chagra family and their connection to the drug world, I went to Barnes & Noble to meet him. I told him every writer in Texas, myself included, wanted to write that story, but he was the only one with the cojones to do it! He liked that. Thanks to John Spong for the fine memorial of Texas’s Ernest Hemingway.
Charlcie Morrison Zavala, California

Gary Cartwright’s legacy is proof of what happens when a magazine gives freedom and full-time employment to world-class writers. Writing like his is why people read and love Texas Monthly.
Influential Reader, via texasmonthly.com

I find it interesting that the same month Texas Monthly’s new ownership announced changes that include no more long stories or articles, the April issue arrived with a paean to Gary Cartwright, one of Texas Monthly’s great writers of long stories and articles.
Julia Baker, Friendswood

Well, Aubrey Damned

I always look forward to receiving Texas Monthly each month; however, I was disappointed that you misspelled Aubrey (spelled it “Aubry”) as the location of Pastrana Studio [Made in Texas]. I imagine the owners of the business are disappointed also. I grew up in Aubrey, and it is near and dear to my heart. It is also considered “horse country of Texas,” so a correction of the spelling would be appreciated.
Pat Gardner, North Richland Hills

Editors’ note: Indeed, in the April edition of Made in Texas, we wrote about Pastrana Studio, located in the city of Aubrey, which we misspelled. We regret the error.

Dining In

Did the Dining Guide go away with new ownership?
Griffin Lord, Belton

Just received our new Texas Monthly. Cannot find the eating-out section. Please do not tell me it is no longer part of your magazine. We have always used your restaurant recommendations. Dump the rising star lawyers and bring back the dining section.
Shellie Yokum, San Angelo

I love your articles, but I count on reading about restaurants in cities around the state every month. We are going to Austin in a couple of weeks, and I had to go to an old Texas Monthly to get some ideas. Please don’t tell me this is gone for good!
M. H. Bell, San Antonio

Editors’ note: The Dining Guide is back and starts on page 114. Enjoy!


Still trying to wrap my head around the April issue of TM, by far your best one in a long time. Chock-full of excellent journalism and compelling stories, social injustices, the next MVP, and ridiculous restaurant reviews. Might as well give Hugo Ortega his own column! Keep up the good work, and God bless Kerry Cook.
Heather Hill, Lake Jackson