June 2011 Issue

On the Cover

Into the Wild

Out of more than half a million acres of state parks and natural areas, we’ve chosen the ten best trips—where to camp, what to do, and what to look for when you head to the nearest town



Caprock Canyons

Where it is: 3.5 miles north of QuitaqueWhat you’ll do: Hike the rough breaks between the Caprock and the Rolling PlainsWhere you’ll sleep: In your tent at the mouth of South Prong CanyonWhat you’ll learn: The park is home to the state’s official bison herdThe colors are what strike you at Caprock Canyons


Mind Games

Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientist David Eagleman is out to change the way we think about guilt and innocence (and time and novels and, well, neuroscientists). Can he pull it off?

Bill Haley performing in Sweden in 1968.

Falling Comet

In 1955 Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” transformed the sound of popular music and made him an international star. Twenty-five years later he was forgotten, desperate, and dying in Harlingen. How did one of the fathers of rock and roll land so far outside the spotlight?


Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Director: Arthur PennPlot: Boy meets girl. Murderous bank-robbing rampage ensues.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:KELLY: All right. We have four votes for Bonnie and Clyde.RAMÍREZ BERG: I was the one who didn’t vote for it. It doesn’t scream out, “This is a Texas movie.” It could be Missouri or


Outdoors 101

Nothing marks an expert camper more than a mastery of the essential skills, so study up on these backwoods tricks before your next expedition.


No Country for Old Men (2007)

Director: Joel and Ethan CoenPlot: Man finds briefcase full of drug money. Is pursued by maniac killer.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:BLOOM: I’ve seen so many scary movies that there are very few movies that can scare me. No Country scared the crap out of me.RAPP: What’s the scariest


Tender Mercies (1983)

Director: Bruce BeresfordPlot: Out-of-luck country singer seeks redemption through love.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:LEAGUE: I thought it was beautiful and spartan. You understand so much of the characters with so few syllables, which is also a very Texan trait. You know, you compare that to Crazy Heart—good Lord, there


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Director: Tobe HooperPlot: Friends fall prey to a family of cannibals while on a road trip.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:LEAGUE: A lot of people have argued this is the most influential horror film of all time, and at the same time, there are Texas themes that resonate through it.


The Last Picture Show (1971)

Director: Peter BogdanovichPlot: Teenagers come of age in a fading small town.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:RAPP: Last Picture Show is a documentary of the first twenty years of my life. I watched it again last night, and I’d forgotten just how authentic it is. I know that dusty, confining



Where it is: 6 miles southwest of Huntsville What you’ll do: Relax and unwind under the East Texas pines Where you’ll sleep: Claim your spot in one of five serene camping areas What you’ll learn: Want to fish but don’t know how? Register for one of the TPWD’s Go Fish!


Hud (1963)

Director: Martin RittPlot: Aging rancher struggles with his brash and callous son.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:BLOOM: If we were to make this harder and say we have to pick the best movie based on a Larry McMurtry story, even though I think I should vote for Last Picture Show,


The Searchers (1956)

Director: John FordPlot: Civil War vet hunts for his niece, who was kidnapped by Comanche.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:LEAGUE: I want to throw one more monkey wrench into the criteria. The Searchers is a bit of a mess as a movie, but it’s been so influential. And there are


Giant (1956)

Director: George StevensPlot: Rancher with East Coast bride sees Texas transformed by discovery of oil.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:LEAGUE: It’s a deeply flawed movie, but if we’re here to talk about Texas movies, then Giant has to be on the list. I mean, subject material, quintessential Texan characters, independent


Red River (1948)

Director: Howard HawksPlot: Tensions flare on a cattle drive.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:RAPP: What about Red River?LEAGUE: It’s a little too ham-handed. The complexity of issues in The Searchers is more interesting.BLOOM: But John Wayne is a meaner son of a bitch in Red River. Even Walter


Chinati Mountains

Where it is: 20 miles north of PresidioWhat you’ll do: Explore remote West Texas by Jeep and on footWhere you’ll sleep: In one of five cabins built by the former ownersWhat you’ll learn: Legend has it that the name is Apache for “pass,” but no one knows for sure



Where it is: 1 mile east of BastropWhat you’ll do: Hike through a pine forestWhere you’ll sleep: In a charming historic cabinWhat you’ll learn: Pine trees can live more than three hundred years If there has ever been an enchanted forest in Texas, the Lost Pines Forest would be


Enchanted Rock

Where it is: 24 miles south of Llano What you’ll do: Climb a 425-foot batholith in the middle of the Hill Country Where you’ll sleep: Three primitive camping areas for those who like to get away from it allWhat you’ll learn: The name is thought to come from the Tonkawa,



Where it is: 33 miles north of UvaldeWhat you’ll do: Float, eat, and danceWhere you’ll sleep: The cabins and campsites in Old Garner are much sought-after. Book early—but bring earplugsWhat you’ll learn: The proper way to two-step Garner State Park’s charms are no secret. In fact, it is arguably


Brazos Bend

Where it is: 28 miles southwest of HoustonWhat you’ll do: See more waterfowl than you thought existedWhere you’ll sleep: In a tent under tall elm treesWhat you’ll learn: If the alligator is hissing, you’re too close (trust me) Even if this park consisted only of the rectangle of forest


Where it is: In Toyahvale, 192 miles east of El PasoWhat you’ll do: Bask in the splendor of West TexasWhere you’ll sleep: In a comfy bed in a historic lodge or innWhat you’ll learn: How about scuba diving? The pool at Balmorhea is the best freshwater diving in Texas. Contact


Bentsen–Rio Grande

Where it is: 2800 S. Bentsen Palm Dr., MissionWhat you’ll do: Look at birds. Eat. Look at birds. Sleep. Look at birdsWhere you’ll sleep: Book a spot at a local RV parkWhat you’ll learn: Chachalacas are named for their call, a rowdy cha-cha-lacWe imagine that a lot of people visit


Ray Roberts Lake

Where it is: 10 miles north of Denton What you’ll do: Biking, horseback riding, and kayak­ing, but don’t forget to stop and watch the sunset Where you’ll sleep: Camp near the water’s edge, which is close to numerous sites in Quail Run What you’ll learn: How to speak mountain-biker, as

Ten Greatest Texas Films Ever

Blood Simple (1984)

Director: Joel and Ethan CoenPlot: Man hires hit man to kill his wife.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:RAPP: But, you know, I put it next to Blood Simple or No Country for Old Men, and there’s no comparison. Blood Simple—that film is almost flawless.BLOOM: I like Blood Simple too.


Behind the Lines

Out of Beach?

Whose coastline is it anyway? How the state Supreme Court may be undermining decades of unlimited public access to the sand and surf.

Letter From Joshua

Playground Rules

The suicides of four Texas teens who were brutally bullied have prompted cries for new legislation. But one lawyer has a different plan: Sue the school districts.

The Apprentice

Carrying on the legacy of the legendary musician Steve Jordan isn’t easy, especially when you’re only 22 years old and blind. But Juanito Castillo is too busy reinventing the conjunto accordion to care.


Hollywood, TX

Extreme Makeover

Looking back, it might have been one of the most successful media makeovers of the twenty-first century. In the fall of 2007, Mark Cuban—the Internet billionaire turned Dallas Mavericks owner, known for his courtside temper tantrums and the hefty fines they engendered—turned up as a competitor on the fifth season of

The Book of Elmer

Texas Christian University Press, long the hub of Elmer Kelton hagiography, has just released its newest paterikon, Elmer Kelton: Essays and Memories ($19.95), a collection of pieces written in honor of the beloved West Texas author, who died nearly two years ago. Among the memories are those of the Reverend


This Hill Country town founded by Freethinkers and abolitionists offers unique artisanal wares, first-rate antiquing, and a tasty $8 hamburger.

How to Wear Spurs

Any rodeo fan can don a Stetson, Wranglers, and a pair of Tony Lamas, but the cowboys in the arena are the ones who wear the spurs. “It’s like a knight in his armor,” says Joe Spiller, who’s been handcrafting them for 27 years and owns Spiller Spurs and Bits,

Bobby Jones, with a game fowl chicken, raised for cockfightin.

Bobby Jones, Game Fowl Breeder

Jones, who lives in Gatesville, has been raising game chickens for almost fifty years. He sells his birds to clients around the world, and in April he testified in Austin before Senate and House committees to oppose a bill that would outlaw the raising of game birds in Texas. Cockfighting, or “harvesting,” as it


Barley Swine

It helps if you understand just how small Barley Swine is: thirty-odd chairs along a short bar and around tall tables in a limestone building on a South Austin thoroughfare. It’s so compact that the minute you sit down you become best friends with the strangers on either side of


Editor's Letter

App in the Heart of Texas

Only a few years ago, the word was understood (if it was used at all) to mean chicken wings or jalapeño poppers or nachos. That time is gone forever. As even the proudest Luddite now knows, an “app” is something you download onto your handheld device or tablet, a helpful

Roar of the Crowd

Roar of the Crowd

DishingYou folks must be a passel of damn Yankees. First, in Texas we don’t “make” our grub; we “fix” it [“Home Plates,” April 2011]. As in, “I believe I’ll fix some breakfast.” Second, that Dutch oven y’all show on page 112 appears to be a plain ol’ cast-iron pot.

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