May 2005 Issue

On the Cover

Since She’s Been Gone

The L.A. life of a girl from Burleson (or, You can take Kelly Clarkson out of Texas . . .).



Where We Rank

How Texas compares with the other 49 states in everything from the percentage of low-income children with health insurance (we’re dead last) to the number of executions (we’re first!).


In America

This winter I traveled to a handful of South Texas colonias to hear the stories of the people there. While I encountered many families living in deplorable conditions, I also witnessed countless acts of near-miraculous transformation.


He asked me if I was going to be white my whole life. I was, of course. But because of our friendship, I’m no longer the clueless upper-middle-class kid I once was.


Gary Cartwright

Me and Him

Once upon a time I thought it was cool to question God’s existence. Not anymore.

Patricia Kilday Hart

Down But Not Out

No one thinks the Democrats have a chance of winning the 2006 governor’s race. Which is exactly why you shouldn’t write them off.


Strangers on a Train

There was something irresistibly romantic about the gutter punk’s description of stowing away in freight cars. No wonder I wanted to try it—even if, at 38, I probably should have thought to myself, “You’re too old for this.”

Music Review

Frances the Mute

On both of its albums, The Mars Volta—El Paso natives and former At the Drive-In bandmates Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala—has trod the well-worn path of concept albums and rock opera. But if you’re picturing sequined capes and rotating stages, think again. In Frances the Mute (GSL), the pair

Music Review

Songs for Tsunami Relief: Austin to South Asia

Just fourteen days after the December 26 tsunami struck South Asia, a gargantuan benefit concert was staged in Austin. Its headliner, Willie Nelson, was among those instrumental in pulling the event together so quickly, so it’s no surprise that Willie’s label has also moved at light speed to release a

Music Review

Gimme Fiction

Most writers strive to pare their work down to the bare essentials, to speak with a voice both clear and concise. Spoon has the same approach to its music. Rarely has a group been so devoid of superfluous licks. For its fifth album, Gimme Fiction (Merge), the Austin band

Book Review

Chasing the Rodeo

Chasing the Rodeo (Harcourt) is Austin journalist W. K. Stratton’s personal assay of the rodeo arts and the sport’s colorful history and personalities, from western star Tom Mix to legendary bucking-bronco rider Jackson Sundown. It’s also an ode to Cowboy Don, Stratton’s absentee father, who spent much of his life

Book Review

Still River

Cheers to Dallasite Harry Hunsicker for giving us Hank (né Lee Henry) Oswald, a most welcome and worthy heir to the legacy of wisecracking private eyes like Robert Parker’s Spenser and Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole. It’s unfortunate (but entertaining) that Oswald spends much of Still River (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Minotaur)

Book Review

The Diezmo

With his historical novel The Diezmo (Houghton Mifflin), Rick Bass graphically conveys the intense sights, sounds, and emotions of the ill-fated Mier expedition through the person of James Alexander, his fictional narrator. Sixteen-year-old James seeks glory when he rides out of La Grange with a Texas militia seeking unspecified


Texas History 101

Texas History 101

The Texas Legislature’s pages and messengers have had a hand in running the state for decades.

Web Exclusive

Darkness Visible

Marshall Arisman, who illustrated our excerpt from Dying to Cross, on depicting violence and working with color.

Web Exclusive

The Storyteller

Illustrator Steve Brodner on the colonias of South Texas and communicating with pictures.

Web Exclusive

Under the Cover

Jeff Lipsky, who photographed Kelly Clarkson for this month’s cover, talks about working with celebrities and what it means to be “a natural.”

Web Exclusive

Fifteen Minutes and Counting

Executive editor Skip Hollandsworth, who wrote this month’s cover story, talks about pop sensation Kelly Clarkson and her fondness for bowling.

Happy Trails

Happy Trails

Art, History, and Cooking 101—when it comes to a lesson in Hispanic culture, San Antonio gets an A+.

Web Exclusive

The Confessional

Writer-at-large Don Graham on Mary Karr’s recently reissued book The Liars’ Club and confessional memoirs.

Web Exclusive

Picture This

Fredrik Brodén, who took the photograph for Gary Cartwright and Dan Jenkins’s e-mail exchange, on inspiration and visualizing a concept.

Liquid Assets

Hot ShotsGive these splashy spring cocktails a spin.Why not observe the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo by brushing up on your tequila basics at these tastings and dinners?In Austin, Santa Rita Tex Mex Cantina hosts Tequila Tuesdays the first Tuesday of each month from 6 to 8. On May

Pat's Pick


I don’t know about you, but when I see the word “hibiscus,” I automatically think, “Any of various chiefly tropical shrubs or trees … having large, showy . . . flowers.” How that delicate floral image got attached to a decidedly Texan, though slickly sophisticated, restaurant in a hot Dallas



Jorge Ramos

“I didn’t want this tragedy to get lost among all the daily news stories,” says Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos, referring to the ill-fated attempt to smuggle at least 74 illegal immigrants into Texas two years ago. So, to bring attention to the incident as well as to larger immigration issues,


Steve Brodner

Although illustrator Steve Brodner did some preliminary research before leaving New York for the colonias of South Texas, he was thoroughly unprepared for what he encountered. “The books I had read were about ten years old, and they focused on the horrific living conditions in the colonias,” he says. “But


Jeff Lipsky

If anyone knows about following a dream it’s Jeff Lipsky, who photographed American Idol queen Kelly Clarkson for this month’s cover. “I was a fly-fishing guide and snowboarder in Colorado for eleven years,” he says. “And then one day I decided to move to L.A. and become a photographer. I

Roar of the Crowd

Second Opinions

“Kinky, your absence is going to be more devastating than Dan Rather’s leaving the ‘sunken anchor’ biz. Please rethink your aspirations!”

Around the State

Around the State

May—People, Places, Events, Attractions05.2005Coast into summer with a warm-up trip to the Texas beach: Our 367 miles of shore offer hundreds of sandy little oases, and along with fishing and birding, there are oceans of inexpensive activities at various state parks. On May 1, 8, and 15, play sea-creature roulette

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