May 2003 Issue


O Sister, Where Art Thou?

History makes no mention of what was one of the most popular all-female country acts ever. Yet the story of the Goree Girls—inmates who banded together in the forties at Texas’ sole penitentiary for women—is worth a listen.

The Skinny on Slim

Thomas Austin Preston, Jr.—a.k.a. Amarillo Slim—has cut cards with LBJ and hustled all manner of sharpies at pool and Ping-Pong. But at 74, his greatest success continues to be at the poker table, as my $100 and I found out.

The Enforcer

The name on everyone's lips this legislative session is unknown to most people outside Austin—inside Austin too. But Mike Toomey, the governor's chief of staff, is the most powerful political operative at the Capitol—and the most feared. Just ask his fellow Republicans.

Cuts Above

To those who say barbecue is an art form, we say, “Amen.” Presenting the elite meat to eat—along with beans, bread, and sauce—from some of the state’s top pits.

Barbecue Joints

ALAMO: Original Willie B’s Bar-B-Q, for its rib botana (Mexican snack) platters; 320 S. Alamo Road, 956-702-1370AUSTIN: County Line on the Lake, for its potato salad not overwhelmed by mayo and sparked by just-right amounts of celery, pickle, and onion; 5204 FM 2222, 512-346-3664BALLINGER: Lisa’s Cafe, for smoked cabbage, available

Top Fifty

Unless otherwise noted, all places take credit cards.ABILENE: Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q We didn’t catch pitmaster Harold Christian singing gospel songs to his customers, but we’re told that isn’t an unusual occurrence. This cozy little room, packed with nine picnic tables, seven booths, and a congregation of athletic trophies, is where

Chain Gang

We admit being partial to the small, independent barbecue joint run by an ornery cuss who has smoke in his eyes and sauce in his veins. But we also concede that chain operations sell some darn good barbecue. So while we included only indies in our top fifty list,

The Best of the Best

Cooper’s Pit Bar-B-Q MasonThe name “Cooper’s” has long been synonymous with Llano, but now the Mason operation of the same name has overtaken its distant cousin. Cooper’s Pit Bar-B-Q was opened in Mason in 1953 by the late George Cooper, whose son Tommy (also deceased) cloned it a decade later


More Than Meats . . .

AUSTIN: Artz Rib House, for its laid-back South Austin vibe, plus live music every evening but Wednesday, and Stubb’s Bar-B-Que, for its historic buildings, live music, and resounding Sunday gospel brunches.BOERNE: The Back Porch, for its wildlife viewing, with many feeders for birds and axis deer.CARTHAGE: Daddy Sam’s BBQ and

Mail Call

NEED A TEXAS-STYLE GIFT for a friend? Barbecue is the answer. Of the many places that ship, we’ve tried and like these. All send the cooked and frozen meat in an insulated box, generally accompanied by reheating instructions. Prices do not include shipping unless otherwise noted.City Market in Schulenburg, 800-793-3440;


Honorable Mention

ALAMO: Original Willie’s BBQ, for sweet pecan-smoked meat, a rarity in the mesquite-dominated Valley.ATLANTA: Tommy’s Bar-B-Que (5.5 miles south of town on U.S. 59), for melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs.AUSTIN: House Park Bar-B-Que, for lean, moist pork loin.BELMONT: The Goss Store, for its mouthwatering ribs and its funk-and-rust atmosphere.BROWNWOOD: Smitty’s Bar-B-Que Pit,

Around the State


Straight Talk

ENTER LAUGHING On May 19 actor-director Carl Reiner, who created the Emmy award-winning series The Dick Van Dyke Show, will interview Neil Simon for the debut of the Brinker International Lecture Series, in Dallas. What’s the difference between the comedy of your day and the comedy of today? The


Get Out

TWOSOME The whole world will be watching Annika Sörenstam tee it up against the big boys May 22 through 25 at the Bank of America Colonial, at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. Sörenstam, the LPGA’s number one player last year and winner of 42 titles in nine years on



STEP OUT James Brown once said that any problem in the world can be solved by dancing. So this seems like a particularly good time to slip on the footwear of your choice and start practicing those fancy steps—whether they be of the boot-scootin’, foot-stomping, or smooth-sashaying variety. In addition



REVELATIONS For more than thirty years the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center has stood on a corner of the UT-Austin campus like a colossal intellectual tease. You could go into the center and ask to see a specific item—say, Charles Baudelaire’s original proof sheets of Les Litanies de Satan (with


Play Bawl!

Yes, yes—come playoff time, the Houston Astros have a history of reducing grown men to tears. But thanks to Jeff Kent, this season could be different.

Not Moving On

Fifteen years after Larry McMurtry announced he was through writing novels, he shows no sign of letting up. For this we should be thankful.

Independent’s Day

With the record business in the doldrums, what's a talented, ambitious band to do? If you're Austin's Grupo Fantasma, you make it on your own.


Wild Things

My siblings and I had plenty of pets growing up, but they were never quite as exciting as those we caught ourselves, such as tarantulas. And garden snakes. And of course, horny toads.



Pat's Pick

On the Road

PLAINS AND FANCY You have to admire any chef in the vastness of rural Texas who decides to buck the menu monoliths of barbecue and chicken-fried steak. But that’s exactly what chef-owners Randy Allred and Edward Harvey are doing at Randy’s of Wildorado, their restaurant on Interstate 40 some fifteen

Pat's Pick

Best Fests

THE MEAT OF THE MATTER Everyone has an opinion on what makes the best barbecue, and nowhere is this argument more intense than at a barbecue cookoff. In Texas there are more than 100 cookoffs a year, some 25 in May alone. Two of the more unusual ones focus on

Pat's Pick

The Drálion

ORIENT EXCESS What a piece of work: towering walls draped in burgundy velvet, colossal silver candelabra, track lighting worthy of The Phantom of the Opera—I fully expected the servers to burst into song. Its name an amalgam of “dragon” and “lion,” The Drálion is exploiting Dallas’ culinary trend du jour,

Texas History 101

Texas History 101

The state's first enclosed penitentiary, a 225-cell facility in Huntsville, has weathered some hard times—and expanded to include seven prison units.

Happy Trails

Happy Trails

Alpine, Marfa, and Fort Davis seemed like a different world—until I got there. I felt right at home in these West Texas cultural hot spots.

Web Exclusive

Flying High

There's nothing quite like being airborne in the cockpit of a plane—a warplane—to get your adrenaline going.

Texas Tidbits

Texas Tidbits

How many calves were born in Texas in 2002? When did two of the big packing plants at the Fort Worth Stockyards close? We've got all the beef on beef in Texas.

A Dinger

Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker talks about second baseman Jeff Kent and a budget like the New York Yankees'.

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