April 2006 Issue

On the Cover

75 Things We Love About Texas

Including: the sopa azteca at El Mirador, in San Antonio; the spring-fed pool at Balmorhea State Park; the humidity; elbow room; free advice at White Rock Lake, in Dallas; county courthouses; boots-and- jeans-clad Academy Award–winner Larry McMurtry; and—seriously— quail hunting.


“Beldades” of the Ball

Every February, on the weekend of Presidents’ Day, the daughters of Laredo’s most prominent families are presented to society in dresses that cost $20,000 or more at a colonial pageant that is the party of the year.


In this exclusive excerpt from Stephen Harrigan’s new novel, Challenger Park, a female astronaut confronts mommy-track issues on the way to outer space.

Tree Ring Circus

Why did the feds spend seventeen years pursuing a baseless billion-dollar lawsuit against Houston financier Charles Hurwitz? To help environmentalists take away his old-growth California redwoods. Your tax dollars at work.


Gone in 15 Minutes

How the fire to end all fires obliterated Ringgold—and how residents of the tiny North Texas town are putting their lives back together.


Gary Cartwright

The Beat Goes On

Coronary artery disease is an old and much-hated enemy of mine. The beast attacked me without warning in 1988 as I strolled with my Airedales along Austin’s Shoal Creek hike-and-bike trail. Last November—sacre bleu!—it got me again.

Behind the Lines

Maybe Not

My ambivalence about George W. Bush continues. And grows more pronounced.

Sarah Bird

Buy, Buy, Birdie

Ladies’ fashion is nothing if not a fantasy inside an illusion wrapped in a thong. Every season, there is a new “look,” a new “trend,” a new “paranoid schizophrenic thought disorder.” And then there are returns.


Music Review

Red Garland Trio at the Prelude

For reluctant pianist RED GARLAND (he had really wanted to be a boxer), there was only one question: Was there life after Miles Davis? Garland, who was also leading his own sessions, had just finished four years in the mercurial trumpeter’s employ when he recorded his live At the Prelude.

Music Review

Hurts to Purr

» BREAKUP WATCH: Hurts to PurrAfter three years and the recent release of its eponymously titled full-length debut (self-released; available through cdbaby.com), this Austin band is calling it quits. It’s a shame, as these relative newcomers have made an album so confident and assuredly cool that it seems

Music Review

You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker

I know what you’re thinking. You need a new WILLIE NELSON CD like Mack Brown needs a $400,000 raise. Well …… maybe. Don’t imagine another Red Headed Stranger, but YOU DON’T KNOW ME: THE SONGS OF CINDY WALKER (Lost Highway) does have a sound concept in mind. Though it seems

Music Review

Margaret Brown

Austin director Margaret Brown, 34, has just seen her acclaimed film about legendary songwriter Townes Van Zandt, Be Here to Love Me, released on DVD. Was there a specific moment that sold you on making this film? The music struck me first. When I first heard the song “Waiting Around

Book Review

Demon Theory

DEMON THEORY, we’re told at the outset, is STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES’s “three-part novelization” of a fictitious film trilogy, adapted from a best-seller “inspired by the case notes of Dr. Neider,” as originally published in the journal P/Q, as . . . well, you get the idea. The conceit is fairly

Book Review

Challenger Park

Everyday life is a complicated thing, and with his finely nuanced novel CHALLENGER PARK, Austinite (and Texas Monthly contributing editor) STEPHEN HARRIGAN makes it clear that the glamour boys and girls of NASA don’t handle the slings and arrows any better than the rest of us. Case in point: Lucy

Book Review

Come Together, Fall Apart.

Dallas’s CRISTINA HENRIQUEZ has assembled a heart-stopping collection of stories set in Panama in her first book, COME TOGETHER, FALL APART. She hints at the nation’s poverty—overcrowded homes, ramshackle furniture—but doesn’t dwell on it, instead finding rich narratives in mundane events. Take the poignant “Ashes,” in which young Mireya is

Book Review

Susan Wittig Albert

As one of Texas’s most prolific writers (thirty-plus works), the author of the best-selling China Bayles mystery books is still going strong: This month’s Bleeding Hearts makes fourteen in the herbalist sleuth series. Does China Bayles still surprise you? She certainly surprised me—surprised herself too—in this book, with the discovery

Pete Laney

“There are a lot more people in the Democratic party who do what the Good Book says: Take care of the poor and the afflicted and the downtrodden.”


Web Exclusive

Into the Fire

Senior editor Katy Vine, who wrote this month’s story about the blaze that destroyed the North Texas town of Ringgold, talks about fire analysis, devastation, and rebuilding.

Happy Trails

Happy Trails

A few miles into Junction, we hit our destination: South Llano River State Park, a true embodiment of the great outdoors.

Web Exclusive

Star Writer

Contributing editor Stephen Harrigan talks about his new book, Challenger Park, which was excerpted in this month’s issue.

Texas Tidbits

Texas Tidbits

Washington’s Birthday Celebration has become a Laredo institution, its traditions embedded in the fabric of the community.

Texas History 101

Texas History 101

Under the Bracero Program (1942–1964), farm hands were taken from poor rural communities in Mexico and brought to fields in the U.S., where they picked fruit and cotton until their contracts expired and they were forced back across the border.

Pat's Pick

Dolce Vita

IT WAS RIGHT about the time I was tearing into the second hunk of homemade Italian sausage, while simultaneously reaching for the pizza and passing the Gorgonzola, that it hit me: I love Dolce Vita because it’s a shut-up-and-eat kind of place. Yes, it’s owned by Marco Wiles,


Editor's Letter

Design of The Times

ONCE UPON A TIME, MAGAZINES redesigned every few years, in response to changing tastes and the possibilities presented by evolving technology. These days, if you want to ensure that the sell-by date on your most creative impulses doesn’t pass, it makes sense to redesign more often. This month, thanks to

Around the State

Around the State

Jordan’s PickThe Blanton AustinIT’S REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN this time. On April 29 the Blanton Museum of Art at last unveils its new home, the Mari and James A. Michener Gallery, at the University of Texas. After nearly three decades of planning, a wealth of soap-opera moments, and some eleventh-hour

Roar of the Crowd

Game On

I read your Bud Shrake/Gary Cartwright article while on a plane from Austin to Los Angeles (poignant in itself), and it literally brought tears to my eyes [“Perfect 10,” February 2006]. It not only took me back to that stellar night of January 4 but to the several nights

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