August 2010 Issue

On the Cover

Breaking Away

Quick! You still have time to get in a great vacation before school starts and summer ends. And with this handy—and extremely thorough—guide to five perfect trips, all you need to do is fill up the tank, buckle up the kids, and go.



Writing Life

The long, slow, quiet, thoughtful, weird, brilliant, often-interrupted, never-compromised career of John Graves, who died July 30, 2013.


Despite rampant fears to the contrary, the bloody drug violence in Mexico hasn’t spilled over into Texas—but that doesn’t mean it’s not transforming life all along the border.

Marfa Best Western

In Donald Judd’s last interview before his death, in 1994, the artist explained that he’d first come to Marfa two decades earlier because he “just wanted a place in the Southwest for the summertime.” Whether he intended it or not, this far West Texas town has since become the


Head of The Class

The question isn’t how the followers of an obscure Turkish imam came to operate the largest charter school system in Texas. It’s whether the incredible success they’ve had can help our ailing public schools.


Breaking Away Directory

Hill CountryBenini Studio and Sculpture Ranch 377 Shiloh Rd., near Johnson City; 830-868-5244; sculptureranch.comCalamity Jane’s 404 S. Main, in Boerne; 830-249-0081; calamityjanestradingco.comCarousel Antiques and Fickle Pickles 118 S. Main, in Boerne (830-249-9306) 1720 Hunter Rd., in Gruene (830-627-8999); ficklepickles.comComfort Cellars Winery 723 Front, in


The Texanist’s Favorite Road Food

As anyone who has eaten too many heat-lamp hot dogs smothered in pump chili knows, the foodstuff consumed on the way to your destination can be one of the horrors of the trip. To help guide your gastronomic ramblings this summer, we asked our advice columnist for his five snacks.Beef


On the Road—Westbound and Down

Most vacations in Texas mean filling up the gas tank and logging long hours on the highway. Yet whether it’s a classic buddy trip or a full-blown family vacation, the charms of the open road remain. May it always be so.

Hill Country Map Quest

When it comes to choosing a getaway, the Hill Country doesn’t have to campaign hard for our affections. Its lush expanses of bounding green hills and serpentine rivers stretch over some 25 of the most idyllic counties in the state. And those picturesque towns that cling proudly to their

Port Aransas Waves Hello

In Port Aransas, idleness is next to godliness for those on vacation. In this unpretentious village on the northern tip of Mustang Island your most exacting task—picking out the perfect spot on the beach—will also be the most rewarding. Who cares if the sand isn’t pristine (this is Texas,

Houston is Chow Town

You know that Houston is the most diverse city in Texas, yet what do you do every time you visit? You stay in the same hotel downtown, plan your typical pilgrimage to the Galleria, and make reservations at the usual restaurants. This time, stay at a hip Montrose B&B


Rough Creek Lodge

“You have arrived at your destination,” your GPS will chirp as you approach the entrance to the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, just outside Glen Rose, though your kids will probably point out that you’re still in the middle of nowhere. So pass through the gates and soldier on


Gov Hunt

As the only man ever to run against both Bill White and Rick Perry, I have a few thoughts on how either one of these fine, upstanding, admirable men could beat the tar out of the other.

Cop Drama

How cuts to the budget of our mental health care system have created a nightmare for police officers in Houston—and everywhere else.


Book Review


Galveston Island means much more than crab shacks and sunshine to ex-con Roy Cady, the narrator of NIC PIZZOLATTO’s gritty noir debut, GALVESTON. In the year 2008, Galveston is where the former mob goon—now a hunched-over, patch-eyed, dried-out drunk—takes twelve-step meetings at the local Finest Donuts. Twenty years earlier, it

Object Lesson

The Art Guys’ Bathroom

The Art Guys, also known as Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth, have been creating conceptual art together exclusively since 1983. They have done everything from leasing ad space on Todd Oldham–designed business suits (which they wore for a year) to offering up bronze busts of themselves—for $1 million—to be

How to Hunt Javelina

When Theodore Roosevelt visited Texas in 1892, he insisted on booking a six-day javelina hunt. He shot two but later opined that the best way to dispatch the animal would be by spear. Teddy was on to something. “Because of their poor eyesight, it’s easy to close in on javelinas,”

Weldon Lister, Master Engraver

Lister, who grew up in Boerne and lives near Welfare, is a third-generation firearm and knife engraver. He makes his designs in steel, gold, silver, and bronze using a hammer and chisel.My dad taught me how to engrave when I was seventeen years old. I started on six-by-twelve practice plates

Book Review

Let’s Take The Long Way Home

LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, a shimmeringly lovely second memoir from former Boston Globe books editor GAIL CALDWELL, opens with this brutally heartbreaking sentence: “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and we shared that too.” Caldwell, an Amarillo

Book Review

The Surf Guru

Austinite DOUG DORST follows up his darkly comic 2008 debut novel, Alive in Necropolis, with THE SURF GURU, a freewheeling fiction collection that ranges from a story about the neuroses of an Austin baker to a portrait of Vincent van Gogh’s bitterly jealous physician. Dorst draws inspiration from odd sources.

Author Interview

Loren D. Estleman

Since publishing his first novel, in 1976, the prolific author has won five Spur Awards in the western genre and four Shamus Awards for his mysteries. His sixty-fifth book zeroes in on the real-life obsession of Judge Roy Bean—one of nineteenth-century Texas’s most colorful jurists—with the British actress Lillie Langtry.

Music Review

Well After Awhile

Few bands embody the incongruities of the Austin music scene like the Gourds. They sound rootsy, but their lyrics are surreal and their influences are all over the place. Kevin Russell is considered the more straightforward of the band’s two primary songwriters, but even his tunes range from crowd-pleasing name-droppers

Music Review

Local Customs: Lone Star Lowlands

If you think your knowledge of musical arcana is peerless, spending some time with the compilations from Chicago’s Numero Group label might take you down a notch. To put together LOCAL CUSTOMS: LONE STAR LOWLANDS, obsessed collectors wore face masks to ward off the toxic fumes emanating from the mold-encrusted

Artist Interview

Jimmie Vaughan

The 59-year-old Austin musician is a guitarist’s guitarist. His former band, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, put blues back on the pop charts in the mid-eighties with the single “Tuff Enuff.” After recording a duet album with his brother, Stevie Ray, who passed away soon afterward, he struck out on his own.


Web Exclusive

Lesson Learned

William Martin talks about how charter schools could fundamentally change the Texas education system.

Purple Haze

The hip-hop inspired “purple drank” may have claimed its latest victim—former A&M defensive tackle Johnny Jolly of the Green Bay Packers—who faces prison time for possession of at least 200 grams of codeine, a key ingredient.


Because we are so close to Mexico, we share the south of the border habit of eating fruit sprinkled with salt and lime juice. Similar to the traditional pairing with beer or tequila, some say salt and lime juice improve your chances of staying hydrated in our intense heat. Most

The Craftsman

Gary Cartwright talks about writing profiles; interviewing his longtime friend John Graves, who penned Goodbye to a River fifty years ago; and concentrating on the present.

Appetite for America

Perhaps in a moment of nostalgia, you once rented the 1946 movie The Harvey Girls, starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, and Angela Lansbury. In it, Garland’s character, Susan, is traveling by train through the West on her way to become a mail-order bride. On the way, she meets a crew


BRC Double Chocolate Bread Pudding

Recipe from BRC, Houston6 large eggs 2 cups heavy cream 2 cups half and half 3/4 cup sugar 6 large artisan challah buns (freshly baked grocery store plain hamburger buns work nicely too) 1/2 pound dark chocolate chips 1/2 pound white chocolate chipsPreheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large

Take Me To the River

The course of the Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race is the 22 miles of the Neches in Anderson County between Lake Palestine and U.S. 79, where the muddy channel winds through thick forest.


Editor's Letter

All He Wrote

He’s been here from the very beginning. In February 1973 readers of the first issue of a brand-new magazine called TEXAS MONTHLY were treated to, among other stories, a strange but fascinating piece by a strange but fascinating writer named Gary Cartwright. Gary was already familiar to many Texans

Roar of the Crowd

Home Sweet Home

I just finished reading your “ Where I’m From” issue, and fellas, I’m touched [June 2010]. My kids are hungry, my dog needs a walk, and my Facebook friends are wondering where I went. I have no opinion on the last episode of Lost, because I didn’t watch the

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