June 2009 Issue

On the Cover

Endless Summer

There are plenty of unpleasant reasons to take a staycation this summer, from the collapse of your 401(k) to the global outbreak of swine flu, but there are plenty of pleasant ones too. For the thirteen weekends between the first day of summer (June 21) and the first day of fall (September 22), we found thirteen weekend trips within Texas that will bring you as much fun, relaxation, romance, and history as anything you’ll find out there in the big, bad world.


Vineyard Hopping

Location: Hill CountryWhat You’ll Need: Road map, spittoonTexas runneth over with wineries; more than 160 are scattered from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods. But for a doable weekend that blends good wine and well-run tasting rooms with wonderful scenery, side trips, varied shopping, and restaurants both


Endless Summer Directory

AustinBig Top Candy Shop 1706 S. Congress Ave., 512-462-2220 or myspace.com/bigtopcandyshop.By George 1400 S. Congress Ave., 512-441-8600 or bygeorgeaustin.com.Continental Club 1315 S. Congress Ave., 512-441-2444 or conti nentalclub.com.Feather’s 1700B S. Congress Ave., 512-912-9779 or myspace.com/31622902.Home Slice Pizza 1415 S. Congress Ave., 512-444-7437

Terry Caffey kneeling in front of his wife and sons' graves.

Flesh and Blood

The most shocking thing about the murder of the Caffey family in East Texas last year was not how gruesome or inexplicable the crime was. It was that it was masterminded by sixteen-year-old Erin Caffey, a pretty girl who worked at the Sonic, sang in her church, and loved her


Rain, Rain, Go Away

Is the Texas economy just late to the downturn, or are we insulated from the rest of the country’s woes? To answer this and other pressing pocketbook queries, Texas Monthly sat down with the state comptroller, the chairman of the UT Board of Regents, a legendary community organizer, a distinguished

Romance on the River

Location: San AntonioWhat You’ll Need: Significant OtherMy husband and I have an annual tradition of going to San Antonio for the weekend—away from errands, our toddler, and everything else that keeps us too busy when we’re at home. It’s easy and inexpensive enough that even a short


Bright Skies, Big Shell

Location: Padre Island National SeashoreWhat You’ll Need: Sleeping bag, marshmallow-roasting stickSummer is not endless, and neither is the Padre Island National Seashore. But its 67.5-mile length is more than half of the whole of Padre Island, the world’s longest barrier island. And with that comes the


Hello to a River

Location: The Frio, outside LeakeyWhat You’ll Need: Inner tube, groceriesI was promised no mosquitoes. The little buggers had just started to attack back home in Austin, and as I smacked my first one of the season against the wall (making a mess but impressing my husband and


Home on the Range

Location: Wildcatter Ranch, GrahamWhat You’ll Need: Nothing at allThe wildcatter ranch resort and spa isn’t exactly a hard-core dude ranch, but that’s how I sold it to my dad and two brothers when we were mulling over plans for our annual family vacation. “Just think,” I told

Art of the Weekend

Location: Dallas and Fort WorthWhat You’ll Need: Sketch pad, beretThe body of downtown Dallas has been prayed over more times than I can count. And while it may take an act of God to finally bring the Trinity River Project to life, there’s no question that when


Presidential Detail

Location: College Station and AustinWhat You’ll Need: Pork rinds, FrescaFirst, a caveat: The exhibits at presidential libraries are to history what the White House press office is to daily news. They burnish rather than analyze their subjects. But what the museum portion of a presidential library lacks


Court Order

Location:: East TexasWhat You’ll Need: Full tank of gas, love of graniteSo you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to plan your weekends. You don’t want to worry about reservations. And you absolutely, positively don’t want to fool with timetables. Then I’ve got two words for


Parental Paradise

Location: Lakeway Resort and Spa, outside AustinWhat You’ll Need: Bathing suit, trashy magazinesDon’t get me wrong: My wife and I are happy to take the Beloved One (our daughter) around the state so she can see things. Still, there are times when our idea of vacation heaven


Culture Vulture

Location: HoustonWhat You’ll Need: Open mind, credit cardI know that the idea of a weekend getaway in Houston—in summer, no less—might strike some people as cuckoo. (Oh, yeah? And how about Pittsburgh in February?) To those folks I can only say I’m sorry—for their ignorance. I have


The Weird, Weird West

Location: Fort DavisWhat You’ll Need: Cowboy hat, canteenThe pleasures of Fort Davis aren’t as arty or oddball as the ones in nearby Marfa or Alpine, but that’s not to say that things aren’t strange. For example, which is weirder: that Fort Davis and Jeff Davis County, in


Putter Around

Location: Las Colinas, the Colony, and DallasWhat You’ll Need: Big Bertha driver, GPS range finderThe Dallas area is home to three golf courses that allow players to experience what the game is like at the top level. You can play the same holes the pros have played,


Risky Business

State representative Allen Fletcher is the chairman of a House subcommittee on white-collar crime. So how did his very own company get tangled up in a white-collar-crime investigation?

Game Over

Sure, sure, the newspaper business is dying, and this is bad for freedom, accountability, and democracy itself. But worst of all is what’s happened to sportswriting.

Sarah Bird

Ready, Set, Go-Go!

Every female on earth believes she can dance. My big break came when a Bob Hope wannabe with shiny suits and a pinkie ring took me on as his sidekick for a two-week tour of Tokyo.


Music Review

Dim the Aurora

The finest bands create not only great songs but also mood, and no one gets that like Austin’s Monahans. The four-piece group named itself after the tranquil West Texas oasis, but the band’s tone is dark and unnerving, like a storm rolling in— all pounding drums and big guitar

Street Smarts

Downtown El Paso

1. Crave Kitchen and BarSmack in the middle of El Paso’s Cincinnati Entertainment District is this industrial-cool restaurant that attracts everyone from college kids to suits. Inexpensive yet chic design solutions generate a big impact: Outside, a marquee-style arrow glows with yellow bulbs to amp up the drab facade, while

Book Review

How to Sell

Rookie novelist Clancy Martin displays a veteran’s savvy when he grabs the reader on the opening page of How to Sell: “The first time I considered jewelry was the morning I stole my mother’s wedding ring. It was white gold. A hundred-year-old Art Nouveau band with eleven diamonds.”

Book Review

The Exchange-Rate Between Love and Money

First published in England in 2008, The Exchange-Rate Between Love and Money is the kind of inventive, intelligent fiction that now deserves to make a splash stateside for Dallas-bred Thomas Leveritt. Set in Sarajevo circa 2002, it is a sly, tragicomic exploration of commerce, politics, and romance in

Book Review

Ignore Everybody (and 39 Other Keys to Creativity)

In the West Texas town of Alpine, Hugh MacLeod writes Gaping Void, a cheeky blog he launched in August 2001 with the deadpan tagline “Cartoons Drawn on the Back of Business Cards.” Now a 13,000-word essay from the Web site has spawned his first book, Ignore Everybody (and

Artist Interview


The 26-year-old Dallas-raised chanteuse (real name: Annie Clark), a former member of the Polyphonic Spree, received universal adulation for her independently made, far-reaching 2007 pop debut, Marry Me. Now she’s back with the even more ambitious ACTOR (4AD).How did you get the music bug?My uncle is an amazing jazz

Music Review

Sewn Together

When the Meat Puppets emerged from the Arizona desert in the early eighties, no one knew what to make of their raw, hyperaccelerated blend of country and psychedelic rock. The Kirkwood brothers (bassist Cris, singer-guitarist-songwriter Curt) had gone beyond a hardcore-punk style to adopt this new sound, and while

Music Review


“I stood in line and left my name / Took about six hours or so / Well, the man just grinned like it was all a game / Said they’d let me know.” These lines, from the new Steve Earle album, have just the sort of populist, humanistic slant

Cecil Cooper

“People are going to hit, or they’re not going to hit. Some guys are going to have a better season than they had before, and some aren’t. There’s not a whole lot I can do except put the right players in the right positions and expect them to perform.”

How to Spit Watermelon Seeds

Emily Post may have deplored any sort of public spitting as “disgusting” and “too nauseating to comment on,” but such notions of etiquette have never stuck with the patrons of Luling’s annual Watermelon Thump. Every June, the World Championship Seed Spitting Contest draws hundreds of spectators who hope to witness

Author Interview

Zac Crain

The former music editor for the Dallas Observer was just another Texas teen when metal rockers Pantera emerged from Arlington in the nineties and went on to sell millions of records and concert tickets worldwide. In BLACK TOOTH GRIN: THE HIGH LIFE, GOOD TIMES, AND TRAGIC END OF “DIMEBAG” DARRELL


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Higher Learning

The Polaris Academy in Houston, a KIPP school, has made significant academic gains in its first two years.

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Choose. Click. Cook.

Whether you are planning a dinner party for twelve or a quiet meal at home for two, cooking has never been so easy thanks to chef David Bull's new interactive cookbook, Bull's Eye on Food. 

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X Marks the Spot

Texas is full of buried booty—or, to be a bit more accurate, full of stories about buried booty that no one has been able to find. Here are six of the supposedly greatest Texas treasures still out there. May the hunters strike gold.

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Sticky in Houston

What to do in humid Houston during the summer? If you’re Lynn Wyatt, you don’t sweat it and ask a couple dozen of your closest acquaintances to a book signing party for your dear, dear friend Candy Spelling, mother of Tori and author of Stories From Candyland.


Coral Sea Prawns

A recipe from Chef Josh Watkins at the Carillon, AT&T Executive Conference Center, Austin8 coral sea prawns, peeled and deveined 2 fennel bulbs, shaved 8 ounces kalamata olives, Halved 1 tablespoon garlic, finely diced 1 tablespoon shallots, finely diced 1 tablespoon saffron 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 cup white wine

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Paper Trail

Up close, the little pieces of artist Shou Ping Newcomb’s work begin to pop out: the petals of a bluebonnet, the scales of a koi.

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Righting a Wrong

The 24th amendment prohibiting the poll tax on voters has been formally approved by the state of Texas—more than four decades later.

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The Ring

How a stranger with a metal detector helped me find my wedding band three years later.

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For the Love of Wine

Despite the fact that Texas boasts more than 150 wineries and is growing in popularity as a wine destination, many people aren’t that familiar with the state’s many offerings. The Austin Wine Festival hopes to change that. 


Editor's Letter

We Are the Champions

Since tax day, when Governor Perry flirted with the idea of Texas seceding from the Union, we have been treated to a full-blown rampage of anti-Texan invective the likes of which have not been seen since George W. Bush decamped from Washington for brushier pastures. “This one state has

Roar of the Crowd

Cheap Thrills

Patricia Sharpe’s article on her favorite dishes under $10 really brought home the truth in the cliché “Time changes everything” [“How to Eat Well in Hard Times,” April 2009]. When my wife and I were first married and attending Sul Ross State College, our weekly grocery budget was $8.

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