Longreads

A Lady First

Aug 31, 2007 By Jan Jaroboe Russell

Today, many younger Texans may be inclined to think of Lady Bird Johnson as belonging entirely to the past. But if her demeanor and style seemed faintly anachronistic, the virtues instilled by her parents back in East Texas—practicality, thriftiness, good manners, and an open mind—made her remarkably effective as a first lady, more so than some of her “modern” successors.

The Truth Is Out There

May 31, 2006 By Michael Hall

Spoiler alert: The mythic Marfa lights may not be real. But there’s no way to know for sure, and that’s why they’re cool.

A Kiss Before Dying

Feb 1, 2006 By Pamela Colloff

Forty-five years after Betty Williams was shot to death by the handsome football player she had been secretly seeing, her murder haunts her Odessa high school—literally.

Embarrassment of Riches

Dec 1, 2005 By John Spong

At Westlake, even if your parents wouldn’t spring for Ralph Lauren, you could still work your way into the in crowd.

The Last Ride of Cowboy Bob

Nov 1, 2005 By Skip Hollandsworth

The feds knew him as a prolific bank robber. But the bearded man who eluded them for so long was not who they imagined him to be. And absolutely no one expected the story to end the way it did.

Kevin Enrich with sons.
Six Brothers

Sep 30, 2005 By John Spong

The tragedy of the Von Erichs—the state’s first family of pro wrestling—is well known not just to fans of the sport but to the many groupies who oohed and aahed at the matinee-idol athletes over the years. Still, you haven’t really heard the story until it’s told by the sole surviving sibling, whose eldest son may be the next one to step into the ring.

Flipping Out

Sep 30, 2005 By Pamela Colloff

The letter-sweater-wearing, pom-pom-shaking, pep-rally-leading girl next door has been a beloved Texas icon for generations. So why do so many people today— lawmakers and lawyers, preachers and feminists—think cheerleading is the root, root, root of all evil?

They Came. They Sawed.

Nov 1, 2004 By John Bloom

And they most definitely conquered. The inside story of how a ragtag bunch of hippies made the wildest Texas movie ever (and spilled no more fake blood than was absolutely necessary).

Reversal of Fortune

Aug 31, 2004 By Pamela Colloff

Eight years ago, 42 people in the West Texas town of Roby—7 percent of the population—pooled their money, bought lottery tickets, and won $46 million. And that's when their luck ran out.

Good-bye to a Horse

Mar 1, 2004 By Gregory Curtis

She named him Mark. I didn’t know why, any more than I knew why my daughter was drawn to riding in the first place. But I did know that she loved him—and that letting him go was the hardest thing she’d ever done.

Conversations With a Grasshopper

Mar 1, 2004 By S. C. Gwynne

To experience the majesty and peril of the desert on my own terms, I spent a week alone in the Solitario, the most remote area of Big Bend Ranch State Park. I confronted my darkest fears—and made small talk with an insect.

Showdown at Waggoner Ranch

Jan 1, 2004 By Gary Cartwright

It’s the nation’s biggest spread within the confines of a single fence—more than eight hundred square miles extending across six counties. So it’s fitting that the family feud over its future is big too. And mythic.

Queen for a Day

Feb 1, 2003 By Pamela Colloff

At this year's Miss Texas Teen USA pageant, girls from big cities and small towns stuffed their bras, slicked Vaseline across their teeth, and prayed that their thighs were toned enough. Anything for the crown.

A Bend in the River

Jun 30, 2002 By Pamela Colloff

In 1996 the body of a cheerleader from a small town in Oklahoma was found on the Texas side of the Red River. She had been raped and shot. The brutal crime destroyed several families and the illusions of an isolated slice of the world.

My Short, Unhappy Life as a Rodeo Clown

Jan 1, 2002 By John Spong

Once upon a time I thought I wanted to be a bullfighter (and not the kind that wears sequined tights). A legendary cowboy named Leon Coffee— and an animal named Pretty Boy— changed my mind.

A Long, Strange Trip

Dec 1, 2001 By Michael Hall

The life of Roky Erickson——one of the most influential Texas rock and rollers of all time——has been one calamity after another. His family and friends have taken care of him with the best of intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell.

How Enron Blew It

Nov 1, 2001 By Mimi Swartz

The Houston-based energy giant put the pursuit of profits ahead of all other corporate goals, which fostered a climate of workaholism and paranoia. And that was only part of the problem.

Queen of the Rodeo

Jul 31, 2001 By Pamela Colloff

For teenage girls in the Hill Country town of Llano, life can be short on glamour and excitement—except at the annual rodeo, when one of them gets a rhinestone tiara and a rare, thrilling moment of glory.

The Whole Shootin’ Match

Feb 1, 2001 By Gary Cartwright

The most famous bank-robbing lovers of all time weren't nearly as glamorous as Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Although the fragile, pretty Bonnie Parker had her good points, Clyde Barrow was a scrawny, two-timing psychopath. They were straight out of a country and western ballad. And when they died in a hail of bullets 66 years ago, their legend was born.

They Haven’t Got a Prayer

Nov 1, 2000 By Pamela Colloff

In the Gulf Coast town of Santa Fe, high school football games had always kicked off with a prayer, but in June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the practice violated the separation of church and state. Now the issue—which has turned neighbor against neighbor and provoked some decidedly un-Christian behavior— has grown from a local controversy into a national one.

Gotta Lubbock

Apr 30, 2000 By Michael Hall

Buddy Holly. Waylon Jennings. Carolyn Hester. The Hancocks. The Flatlanders. An oral history of the state's most storied music scene.

The Sins of the Father

Apr 1, 2000 By Pamela Colloff

For Tom Cherry, the precise place where loyalty to his dad ends and a larger obligation to society begins lies deep in the woods of East Texas, at the intersection of history and conscience, where the truth about a church bombing during the struggle for civil rights in the South may only now be coming to light.

When We Were Kings

Jul 31, 1998 By Skip Hollandsworth

For the first time in its history, the world-famous King Ranch is being run by someone other than a descendant of its founder. Can the mythic institution survive a changing of the guard?

Willie at 65

Apr 1, 1998 By Gary Cartwright

The Red Headed Stranger is about to be eligible for Medicare? Ain’t it funny how time slips away.

The Great, Late Townes Van Zandt

Mar 1, 1998 By Michael Hall

More than a year after his death, he’s still being remembered as the best Texas songwriter of his time. This month’s star-studded Austin City Limits tribute shows why.

The Last Posse

Mar 1, 1998 By Gary Cartwright

After thieves stole his daughter’s horse, deputy U.S. marshal Parnell McNamara didn’t make a federal case out of it. Instead, he rounded up a group of old-style lawmen and lit out after them.

A Star Is Reborn

Mar 1, 1997 By Gary Cartwright

A year after Kris Kristofferson’s standout role in Lone Star, Hollywood is still marveling over his comeback. He is too. by Gary Cartwright

The Killer Cadets

Dec 1, 1996 By Skip Hollandsworth

David Graham and Diane Zamora were intelligent, young, and in love. And they shared a secret: They had brutally murdered Adreianne Jones.

His Time to Kill

Jul 31, 1996 By Jason Cohen

He shone in Lone Star; now he’s thrilling ’em in A Time to Kill. How talent and timing made native Texan Matthew McConaughey Hollywood’s hottest leading man.

Poisoning Daddy

Jun 30, 1996 By Skip Hollandsworth

No one ever suspected a thing until she asked her best friend if she could keep a terrible secret: the bizarre story of teenager Marie Robards, the devoted daughter who murdered her father.

Junior Achievement

May 31, 1996 By Joe Nick Patoski

Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker—and now Junior Brown? The former community college teacher is the latest outlaw to hijack Texas country music, and he may be the greatest.

Silicone City

Aug 6, 1995 By Mimi Swartz

From invention to litigation, the breast implant has done more for Houston’s economy—and its psyche—than anything since oil.

Are Texans Gun Crazy?

Apr 30, 1995 By Gary Cartwright, Robert Draper and David McCormick

During the first week of April, as the Legislature considered the case for concealed weapons, Texas mourned the consequences of two gun-related tragedies in Corpus Christi: the murder of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla Perez and the shooting of five workers at a refinery inspection company by a…

The Promised Land

Apr 1, 1994 By Mimi Swartz

We are sixth-generation Texans and we are Jews. My family’s history is an account of the price we have paid to be both.

See No Evil

Apr 30, 1993 By Skip Hollandsworth

Dallas police say Charles Albright is the coldest, most depraved killer of women in the city’s history. To me, he seems like a perfect gentleman. Maybe too perfect.

O Janis

Sep 30, 1992 By Robert Draper

Janis Joplin’s life was about music, rebellion, and excess—but she was influenced most by her tormented relationship with the people and spirit of Port Arthur.

The Killer Next Door

Apr 1, 1992 By Gayle Golden

For six years, my landlord and his wife were the perfect neighbors. Then he was accused of murdering her—and suddenly I didn’t know what to believe.