August 2008 Issue

On the Cover

Springs Eternal

Grab your towel, your sunscreen, and go! Presenting our 25 favorite swimming holes: Barton Springs, Blue Hole, Balmorhea, and other iconic places to lower your core temperature. At least for a couple of hours.



How a fish called Ethel (seventeen pounds, ten ounces) caught by a fishing guide named Mark (Stevenson, in 1986, on Lake Fork) revolutionized a once-sleepy sport.

State of Play

You may think you know how the Obama-McCain battle in Texas is going to turn out. You may even be right. But the more important outcome is down-ballot, where two dozen or so races—and the future of politics and policy here—will be affected by what happens at the top of

Out of Sight

For the 140 full-time, residential students lucky enough to be enrolled there, the Texas School for the Blind is “heaven,” “home,” and “the first place I had friends.”


The Killing Field

Before they clubbed two deer to death in their tiny West Texas town, the four high school football stars were treated like royalty. Afterward, when news of their exploits hit the Internet, they were celebrities of a very different sort.



Music Review

Two Men With the Blues

“Overexposed” doesn’t begin to cover it. After innumerable recent releases, not to mention all the seventy-fifth birthday hoopla, Willie Nelson again? You’d think no one else made records in Texas. Actually, Two Men With the Blues (Blue Note) was recorded in New York City. What distinguishes it from

Luci Baines Johnson

“‘LBJ’s war’ was not a war he had sought. It was a war he had inherited. It was a war he was trying desperately to get out of.”

Jana Faulk, Long-Haul Truck Driver

Faulk was born in Missouri and raised in Corpus Christi. Before becoming a truck driver with her husband, Tony, she lived in the West Texas town of Terlingua (population: 267), where she worked as a horseback wilderness guide and owned a popular, though now defunct, liquor store. Tony was a

Author Interview

Nick Flynn

The play Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins represents a chance for the award-winning poet and memoirist (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City) to “work a muscle [he] hadn’t before.” He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Houston.Is Alice your first play?In my memoir

Book Review

Why I Came West

Over the course of two decades living in Montana’s remote Yaak Valley, Houston-bred Rick Bass has produced 21 books—largely about the wilderness that surrounds him—and acquired a reputation as a zealous, not to say rabid, environmental activist. Why I Came West is his attempt to redefine himself as

Book Review

Leather Maiden

Life is kicking Pulitzer-nominated journalist Cason Statler squarely in the pants at the outset of Joe R. Lansdale’s potent seriocomic thriller Leather Maiden. Fired by his editor at a Houston paper for personal reasons (“I was banging his wife. And his stepdaughter”), Statler retreats to his hometown of

Music Review

She Ain’t Me

Austin violinist-turned-fiddler-turned-singer Carrie Rodriguez capped her multiyear tutelage with songwriter Chip Taylor in her 2006 debut, Seven Angels on a Bicycle. While the album featured several Taylor compositions, it was a folksy and soulful stunner that was clearly a step up for the theretofore reserved Rodriguez. Now She

Music Review


Menacing, grandiose, romantic, apocalyptic: The music of Shearwater is no summertime fling. The four-piece band is the brainchild of ornithologist and Austin transplant Jonathan Meiburg, who delivers his strange, arresting imagery in a voice—part crooning, part ghostly falsetto—that evokes an anguished Bryan Ferry. Shearwater’s music is typified by a

Artist Interview

Carl Finch

Since 1979 the guitarist, key-boardist, and accordionist (center) has led Denton’s famed “nuclear polka” outfit Brave Combo, whose latest project has been to score the sound track for As the Wrench Turns, a PBS animated series based on the NPR program Car Talk. The show debuted July 9. How


Web Exclusive

Nick Flynn

The new play from the author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.

The Filter: Dining

New and Noteworthy

Café ZolHouston This charming spot offers an intriguing selection of what it calls “Scandinavian tapas.” The lobster chowder with crawfish and the Exotic House Salad of greens, grapes, and kiwi whetted our appetite for an amalgam of flavors and textures. Give serious consideration to the shrimp in phyllo with

Pat's Pick

Screen Door

Poor June Cleaver would be so confused. The pretty, proper dining room at Screen Door—the two-month-old restaurant at Dallas’s One Arts Plaza—looks as if it could be the Cleavers’ living room. But June would never have served iced tea in a milk bottle. And if there had been daughters in


Roar of the Crowd

Second Helpings

I enjoyed your barbecue story and am planning my summer trips so that they include stops at some from the top five on your list. [“BBQ08,” June 2008]. But I must say that y’all missed a great one: Martin’s Place in Bryan.Matt WiedersteinBryan. . . Angelo’s Bar-B-Que in Fort

Editor's Letter

A Patriot Act

As I type these words, it is July 4— a day filled with bunting, parades, hot dogs, and political candidates slyly impugning one another’s patriotism. It is also a day to contemplate what this country of ours owes us, and what we owe it. The former has been the subject

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