January 2010 Issue

On the Cover

The 2010 Bum Steer Awards

It was a year of accomplice apes, bedraggled Bugattis, Christlike Cheetos, dim-witted deli-owning Democrats, egregious errata, fatal foreplay, gun-toting golfers, heartless high school hoopsters, ignoble implants, jackass judges, killer Kims, laughingstock legislators, miniature museum mummies, nincompoop ne’er-do-wells, overwhelming odors, pandering Perry, quazy Quaids, reassuring Riddle, shameless Stanford, territorial T. Boone, useful urine, vituperative vixens, weaponized waitresses, x-alted XXX clubs, yolky yahoos, and zero-tolerance zealots.



Lands That I Love

Our natural resources are under greater threat than ever before. Meet three very different people who are doing something to save Texas. Literally.


The Quaid Family Circus

Over the past two years, veteran actor Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, have transformed themselves from a pair of artsy eccentrics into a tin-pot update of Bonnie and Clyde. Though the Houston native and his wife of twenty years haven’t engaged in any homicides or bank robberies, they


Revenge of the Nerds

How did a small cadre of film geeks from Austin take an outsized role in determining what you see at the multiplex on Friday night? One dismembered body at a time.


Behind the Lines

Home Front Lines

For too many veterans, the emotional scars of war go untreated. An innovative group of Harris County politicians, judges, attorneys, and health care workers—most of whom are veterans themselves—is aiming to fix that.

Mimi Swartz

What She Wore

On the day my mother died, I found myself in the place that, more than any other, had defined our relationship: her closet.


How to Make Texas Caviar

On New Year’s Day superstitious Texans take out a symbolic insurance policy by helping themselves to a heap of black-eyed peas—a practice that, according to tradition, guarantees one lucky day for each pea consumed. No one knows for certain how this ritual started, but one theory is rooted in horticulture:

Object Lesson

Elizabeth Avellán’s Car

Elizabeth Avellán, the co-owner of Troublemaker Studios and the producer of Desperado, the Spy Kids series, Grindhouse, and the much-anticipated sci-fi action flick Predators, considers her job a mix of maternal instincts and business savvy. “I’m the one who tells people, ‘Yes, you can do that,’ or ‘No, we

Music Review


Since its inception in Austin, in 1993, Spoon has had a skyrocket trajectory with six terrific albums, each one topping the last. It’s been two and a half years since the hand-clap-and-horn-laden rock and soul of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga kicked the group even further up the national

Music Review

Girl of the Century

There’s a cool charm to Girl of the Century (Bloodshot), the new collaboration between Austin “rockabilly filly” Rosie Flores and the Chicago-based Pine Valley Cosmonauts, that defies easy explanation. The Cosmonauts are a loose collective led by Welsh rocker Jon Langford (the Mekons, Waco Brothers), who is

Music Review

Rain On the City

It was 1992 when a once-in-a-lifetime confluence of events resulted in a masterpiece. Freedy Johnston, a musician from Kinsley, Kansas, arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey, at the height of its fertile songwriter scene and, inspired, recruited a few peers and (literally) sold the farm to record and finance his

Artist Interview

Ray Wylie Hubbard

The Dallas-raised songwriter first made a name for himself by penning “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” which Jerry Jeff Walker recorded in 1973 on Viva Terlingua. But he then struggled with alcohol, drugs, and relative obscurity until the nineties, when his album Loco Gringo’s Lament (1994) launched a string

Book Review

The Ticking is the Bomb

Seasonal Texan Nick Flynn (he teaches one semester each year at the University of Houston) is haunted throughout The Ticking is the Bomb by the same ghosts and demons that inhabited his remarkable debut memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City : his mother’s suicide, his father’s alcoholism,

Book Review


Roses, a sleepy, weepy saga of love, war, and tragedy set in the fictional East Texas town of Howbutker, has all the ingredients to make San Antonio’s Leila Meacham a big seller indeed: feuding families, breathless liaisons, tainted inheritances, and a bit of dirty dealing. In her first

Author Interview

Steven Weinberg

The Nobel Prize—winning physicist’s second collection of essays, Lake Views, covers a range of topics, from religion and Armageddon to the “Future of Science, and the Universe.” A professor in the physics and astronomy departments at the University of Texas at Austin, he is widely published in the scientific


Web Exclusive

Toy Story

From a Magic Garden crystal kit to a plastic replica of R2D2, the diverse offerings at three toy stores in Austin are right on—for any age.


Editor's Letter

Funny Cha-cha

Not a funny year. The meltdown kept melting down, the collapsing markets kept collapsing, and the downsizing economy kept downsizing. Texas fared better than most states (see “California, disaster in”), but we weren’t immune. In October, the number of unemployed Texans topped one million. In November, the comptroller’s office

Roar of the Crowd

Eternal Flame

What a well-done and moving story on this tenth anniversary of the Bonfire collapse [“Ring of Fire,” November 2009]. Flying at 37,000 feet on my way to New York, I cried like a baby as I read the story. Flashbacks to ’72 and ’73, when I was a medic

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