February 2010 Issue

On the Cover

Right Place, Right Time

A year ago Rick Perry’s political future seemed to be in peril. Now he’s looking past the 2010 elections—and all the way to the White House. Think I’m kidding? How about a cup of tea?


Where to Eat Now 2010

You had to be brave to open a restaurant last year. Or you had to be a genius. Or, like Robert Del Grande, whose revamped Houston eatery tops our list of the ten best gastronomical debuts of 2009, you had to be both.

He’s About A Mover

Country, jazz, blues, R&B, polka, and conjunto—the late, great Doug Sahm was a walking encyclopedia of Texas music. An exclusive excerpt from a new biography explores how he stirred it all together and found his own sound in his first great song.

Susan Wright, the blue-eyed butcher of Houston.


That’s the number of times Harris County housewife Susan Wright stabbed her husband in a brutal 2003 murder that riveted the nation and landed her in prison for 25 years. But should the butcher of the burbs be freed?


Letter From Fort Worth

Bishop Takes Castle

Fort Worth clergyman Jack Iker’s battle with the Episcopal Church has become an all-out war. And the stakes couldn’t be higher.

The Convert

After a sudden pang of conscience, former Bryan Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson became a pro-life activist and a star on the conservative talk show circuit. But is she telling the truth?

The Rice Stuff

Why the proposed merger between Baylor College of Medicine and my alma mater could turn out to be a bad prescription.


Book Review

Mr. Shivers

First-time author and Austinite Robert Jackson Bennett takes a solemn approach to genre fiction, with nary a light moment in his allegorical horror novel, Mr. Shivers. Set in the Depression-era Southwest, the saga follows Marcus Connelly, who leaves his wife and Memphis home to ride the rails west

David R. Dow

The founder of the Texas Innocence Network, who is also the litigation director at the Texas Defender Service and a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, uses his hard-won knowledge of the state legal system to maximum effect in his fifth book, The Autobiography of an Execution.

Music Review

The Golden Archipelago

While many groups wear their influences on their sleeve, Austin’s Shearwater defies typecasting. The band’s dramatic musical arsenal spares it from making mere pop Xeroxes: Singer Jonathan Meiburg plays with eerie falsettos and operatic growls; the group’s swoops and leaps in volume are like a symphony’s (albeit one with

Music Review

Downtown Church

If someday a history is written of Patty Griffin’s recordings, 2007’s Children Running Through will no doubt stand as a milestone: The Austin songstress discovered she could really thrill her audiences by letting loose. It was that album combined with another, a session with her idol Mavis Staples, that

Book Review

One Amazing Thing

One Amazing Thing is a beautiful novel, a tapestry of nine stories from Houston’s Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, whose short fiction earned her an American Book Award in 1996. Seven potential travelers in an unnamed U.S. city are applying for documents at an Indian Consulate when an earthquake razes

Street Smarts


1. Sweet TangerineFrom the outside, this off-the-beaten-path white stucco house looks like someone’s lovingly preserved Spanish Revival. But a step behind the neon-orange door reveals a seasonally chic gift store manned by Carmen Austin and her mother, Sarah Jenkins. Fans of Sid Dickens’s timeless hand-painted tiles can get their fix

Music Review

The Courage Of Others

Midlake, the acclaimed psychedelic folk band from Denton, has a curious background. All five of its members were jazz musicians at the University of North Texas; they formed in 1999 to play Herbie Hancock–influenced fusion. Leader Tim Smith has been up front about having to educate himself about the

Artist Interview

Gerard Cosloy

The music exec, who lives in Austin, is the co-owner of Matador Records, a label with a huge presence in the indie rock world: Its artists have included Teenage Fanclub, Pavement, Liz Phair, Yo La Tengo, and Cat Power, plus Austin acts Shearwater (see review) and Harlem (which has a

Object Lesson

Amy Myers Jaffe’s Desk

As the director of the Baker Institute Energy Forum at Rice University, Amy Myers Jaffe is one of the few women at the forefront of energy research and policy. Armed with an Arabic studies degree from Princeton and hundreds of published academic articles, the 51-year-old former editor and mother

How to dance Cumbia.

How to Dance Cumbia

Before waltzing into a Tejano nightclub—or into any big party in South Texas, for that matter—you should know how to dance cumbia. Originally a folk dance from Colombia, the cumbia shuffled across Latin America, picking up small changes along the way, and has comfortably settled here with a distinct Tejano

Melanie Matcek, Matchmaker

A San Antonio native, Matcek runs Heart and Soul-Mates, a personalized matchmaking service for clients across South Texas. She is also a licensed relationship coach.After becoming single again in late 2006, I started to do the online dating thing. I had heard the horror stories, and I quickly realized


The Filter: Dining

New and Noteworthy

Thai SpiceCorpus Christi Chef Pennee Chanyaman and her host-husband, Paul, have moved their thriving operation one block to a freestanding building that’s larger, more visible, and more accessible, all the while maintaining the emphasis on personal attention that made their previous spot so well liked. A subsequent increase in patronage


Roar of the Crowd

Dance Fever

Loved the dance hall stories, especially those about Floore’s and the Quihi Gun Club [“Step Right Up,” December 2009]. I sure knew I was home in Texas, after twenty years of wandering the world with the Air Force, when I attended a wedding at the latter, surrounded by four

Editor's Letter

Paulitics 101

When Paul Burka was ten years old, his mother gave him a board game called Politics. This is the honest truth. Elvis’s mother gave him a guitar; Paul’s mother gave him Politics. He can still remember the rules. “You tried to capture the states, which were divided into six

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