Longreads

Confessions of a Seventh-Grade Texas History Teacher

Jan 21, 2013 By John Spong

Bobby Jackson has taught students in the Aransas County school district about the Plains Indians, the Battle of San Jacinto, and Spindletop since the state celebrated its sesquicentennial. How he does it bears no resemblance to the class I took when I was stuck in middle school.

Industrial Evolution

Jan 21, 2013 By Kate Galbraith

As much as anything, the Texas economic miracle depends on water. Lots of water. So what are all those power plants, refineries, and factories going to do as the state gets drier and drier and drier?

Drawing Straws

Jan 21, 2013 By Nate Blakeslee

The future is likely going to require us to move large amounts of water from wet but sparsely populated places (a.k.a. East Texas) to thirsty, booming cities. Good thing there’s a plan for that. There is a plan, right?

The Writing on the Wall

Jan 21, 2013 By Roger D. Hodge

The Lower Pecos River rock paintings were created four thousand years ago by a long-forgotten people. But their apparent message may be as useful today as it was then: Follow the water.

Girls Love Me

Jan 21, 2013 By Katy Vine

Austin Mahone is sixteen years old. He doesn’t have a record contract, a tour bus, or a backing band. But he does have more than 650,000 followers on Twitter and the email addresses of 2,000,000 fans. Meet San Antonio’s answer to Justin Bieber.

Larry Hagman’s Curtain Call

Jan 21, 2013 By Harry Hurt III

As the man known to the world as Dallas's J. R. Ewing fends off throat cancer, he gears up to reprise the role that turned him into an icon and looks back on one of the most extraordinary—and eccentric—lives in show business.

Truth or Consequences

Jan 21, 2013 By Joe Hagan

In 2004 Dan Rather tarnished his career forever with a much-criticized report on George W. Bush’s National Guard service. Eight years later, the story behind the story can finally be told: what CBS’s top-ranking newsman did, what the president of the United States didn’t do, and how some feuding Texas pols got the whole ball rolling.

Below the Surface

Jan 21, 2013 By Mimi Swartz

In 1996 a powerful South Texas ranching clan accused ExxonMobil of sabotaging wells on the family’s property. Thirteen years, millions of dollars in legal fees, and one state Supreme Court opinion later, the biggest oil field feud of its time is still raging.

Lights, Camera, Carthage!

Jan 21, 2013 By Skip Hollandsworth

Nearly fifteen years after Richard Linklater and I started talking about turning a TEXAS MONTHLY story into a major motion picture, it’s finally hitting the big screen, with a little help from Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Shirley MacLaine—and a seventy-year-old retired hairdresser from Rusk named Kay Baby Epperson.

The World at Her Feet

Jan 21, 2013 By Jason Sheeler

Twenty-year-old Jane Aldridge draws 400,000 readers to her style blog, Sea of Shoes, each month; has appeared in Vanity Fair; and once attended a private dinner with Karl Lagerfeld. The secret to her success? That she won’t leave Dallas behind.

Home on the Range?

Jan 21, 2013 By Nate Blakeslee

Texas Parks and Wildlife has embarked on an ambitious plan to restore the desert bighorn sheep population in Big Bend Ranch State Park. To accomplish this goal, the department has had to make hard choices about which animals live, which animals die, and what truly belongs in the Trans-Pecos.

Luv and War at 30,000 Feet

Jan 21, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

Somehow, as every other major airline went bankrupt, slashed its workforce, or grounded planes, Southwest Airlines kept flying high. Today, Southwest is the country’s largest domestic carrier. So how does a feisty underdog vanquish its competitors and dominate a thoroughly beleaguered industry? One Kick Tail-a-Gram at a time.

The Paper Chase

Jan 21, 2013 By Michael Hall

Houston attorney Bill Kroger and state Supreme Court chief justice Wallace Jefferson are on a mission to rescue thousands of crumbling, fading, and fascinating legal documents from district and county clerks’ offices all over the state. Can they save Texas history before it’s too late?

Sex, Lies, and Hit Men!

Jan 21, 2013 By Skip Hollandsworth

Yvonne Stern knows that her husband, the wealthy Houston attorney Jeffrey Stern, had a steamy affair with a woman named Michelle Gaiser. And she knows full well that two years ago Gaiser hired a series of men to kill her. But she refuses to believe that Jeffrey was in on the plan.

“If the Serial Killer Gets Us, He Gets Us”

Jan 21, 2013 By Skip Hollandsworth

Police had all but given up looking into a pair of assaults against two prostitutes in the Houston neighborhood of Acres Homes. But when a third turned up dead, investigator Darcus Shorten embarked on a search that revealed a brutal reality.

Who Killed Mary Eula Sears?

Jan 21, 2013 By Michael Hall

In 1982 a man named Wayne East was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of one of Abilene’s most prominent citizens. To this day, he maintains his innocence. And one member of the victim’s family believes him.

terry grier hisd superintendent
Super Collider

Jan 21, 2013 By Mimi Swartz

Terry Grier is the hard-charging, reform-minded, optimistic superintendent of the largest school district in the state. He’s also the most divisive, embattled, and despised man in Houston. Did it have to be this way?

The Skirmish Will Be Followed by a Ladies’ Tea

Jan 21, 2013 By Katy Vine

The Civil War may be 150 years old, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still stir up a fuss (Confederate license plate, anyone?). Just ask one of the hundreds of very accurately uniformed reenactors who descend on Jefferson every year to die for the cause.

The Not So Happy Campers

Jan 21, 2013 By Mimi Swartz

For more than seven decades, Camp Mystic has been one of the prettiest, happiest, and most exclusive destinations in Texas. But after a bitter, multimillion-dollar legal battle, the very thing that the owners cherished—family—may be the force that tears the camp apart for good.

Church Burners

Jan 21, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Why did Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister, two Baptist boys from East Texas, set fire to ten churches across three counties last year?

What Do You Think of the Rangers Now?

Jan 21, 2013 By Bryan Curtis

The Rangers? Don’t look now, but after four decades of haplessness, the boys from Arlington are poised to make a run at something more than just another pennant. They might just be . . . America’s (new) Team.

The Birdman of Texas

Jan 21, 2013 By Katy Vine

Victor Emanuel can find you a hooded warbler, a horned guan, or maybe even an Eskimo curlew. But his real genius is that he can get you to really look at a grackle.

The Lost Boys

Jan 21, 2013 By Skip Hollandsworth

It was the most shocking crime of its day, 27 boys from the same part of town kidnapped, tortured, and killed by an affable neighbor named Dean Corll. Forty years later, it remains one of the least understood—or talked about—chapters in Houston's history.

Vanity Farrah

Jan 21, 2013 By Skip Hollandsworth

All she did was walk into the bar, sit down, and smile. But I knew right away why, even at age fifty, Farrah Fawcett is still an angel.

bon fire football memorial feature
Ring of Fire

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

On November 18, 1999, at 2:42 a.m., the most passionately observed collegiate tradition in Texas—if not the world—came crashing down. Nearly sixty people were on top of the Texas A&M Bonfire when the million-pound structure collapsed, killing twelve, wounding dozens more, and eventually leading to the suspension of the ninety-year-old ritual. Now, ten years later, on what would have been Bonfire’s centennial, the Aggies celebrate the history, relive the tragedy, and wrestle over what happens next.

The Last Empire

Jan 20, 2013 By William Broyles

The King Ranch saga: how one family conquered, tamed, loved, toiled on, and fought over a great piece of Texas.

Free to Kill

Jan 20, 2013 By Gary Cartwright

Once, the State of Texas was going to put Kenneth McDuff to death as payment for his crimes. Instead, it set him free to murder again.

Blood Will Sell

Jan 20, 2013 By Skip Hollandsworth

The richest man ever tried for murder has found the Lord, along with a new career peddling hand cream. Are you buying the latest incarnation of Cullen Davis?

The Good Book and the Bad Book

Jan 20, 2013 By John Spong

When parents at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, in Austin—where the Capital City’s moneyed elite have educated their kids for more than fifty years—rebelled against the teaching of Brokeback Mountain, it was, you might say, a learning experience for everyone involved.

Law and Disorder

Jan 20, 2013 By Mimi Swartz

During his lifetime, he captivated Houston with his courtroom brilliance, outsized ambition, and high-dollar lifestyle. But in the year since John O’Quinn’s tragic death, a bitter estate battle has revealed who he really was.

Innocence Found

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Anthony Graves had been behind bars for eighteen years when the prosecutors in his case abruptly dropped all charges and set him free. How did it happen? What happens next?

The Slow Life and Fast Death of DJ Screw

Jan 20, 2013 By Michael Hall

He was one of the most influential cultural figures in Texas—–a generous godfather to a generation of rappers, an entrepreneur of Houston's mean streets, the master of a scene fueled by codeine cough syrup and hip-hop beats. When he overdosed in November at the age of 29, it was easy to dismiss him as yet another musician who succumbed to his own success. But his story is more complicated than that.

Innocence Lost

Jan 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Anthony Graves has spent the past eighteen years behind bars—twelve of them on death row—for a grisly 1992 murder. There was no plausible motive nor any physical evidence to connect him to the crime, and the only witness against him repeatedly recanted his testimony. Yet he remains locked up. Did the system fail?

Gentling Cheatgrass

Jan 20, 2013 By Sterry Butcher

What does it take to break a wild mustang? Patience, horse sense, experience, and if you’re Teryn Lee Muench, no more than one hundred days.

The Soul of a Man

Jan 20, 2013 By Michael Hall

For nearly sixty years, a succession of obsessed blues and gospel fans have trekked across Texas, trying to unearth the story of one of the greatest, and most mysterious, musicians of the twentieth century. But the more they find, the less they seem to know.

Birthplaces of the Blues

Jan 20, 2013 By Michael Hall

Want to see the Texas of Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mance Lipscomb, and other pioneering musicians of the twentieth century? Your trip through time begins near Washington-on-the-Brazos.

Born to Run

Jan 20, 2013 By Skip Hollandsworth

In the campaign for governor, the Republican nominee is out to prove to voters—and himself—that he’s his own George Bush.

Big State, Small Screen

Jan 20, 2013 By John Spong

Is Friday Night Lights the best TV show ever made about Texas? Or just the first one (sorry, J.R.! Sorry, Hank!) that’s tried so hard to get the details right?

True West

Jan 20, 2013 By John Spong

Twenty-five years ago, Larry McMurtry published a novel called Lonesome Dove—and Texas hasn’t looked the same since. Listen in as more than thirty writers, critics, producers, and actors, from Peter Bogdonavich and Dave Hickey to Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, and Anjelica Huston, tell the stories behind the book (and the miniseries) that changed the way we see the West.

That’s Oil, Folks!

Jan 20, 2013 By Skip Hollandsworth

Forget the Outer Continental Shelf. There’s a good old-fashioned boom happening in Midland, thanks to a crafty drilling technique that unlocked the secret reserves of the Permian Basin and revived the late, great West Texas oilman.

My Own Private Alamo

Jan 20, 2013 By Stephen Harrigan

After 164 years, what more is there to say about (or see at) the old mission church in downtown San Antonio? That depends on how you look at it.