May 2008 Issue



Natural Beauties

Dozens of roses—and not just yellow ones—have flourished in Texas for more than a century, planted by immigrants who cherished them as sentimental reminders of home. Here are a few of our favorites.


This Land Is His Land

Jerry Patterson’s enemies make him out to be the Grinch who sold Christmas (Mountains, that is). Of course, he couldn’t give a &$%#.


Faith, Hope, and Chastity

Texas receives more federal funding for abstinence education than any other state. But is teaching kids not to have sex the same as sex education?


The Full Nelson

April 30, 1933 Born in Abbott. His mother leaves six months later; his father leaves a few years after that. Willie and his older sister, Bobbie, are raised by their grandparents, Daddy and Mama. 1939 Gets his first guitar, a Sears Stella. 1942 Lands his first paying job, playing with

Remains of the Day

The Texas State Cemetery, home to the final resting places of the celebrated and the notorious, is a walk through time, revealing all that is great, courageous, tragic, pompous, and absurd about Texas.


Ed Jurdi & Gordy Quist

Together with Colin Brooks, they make up the triumvirate of songwriters who front Austin’s Band of Heathens. What began as a loose collaboration of jam buddies has led to two live releases, Best New Band honors at the 2007 Austin Music Awards, and finally, a self-titled debut studio album.

Directions to See a Ghost

In case you haven’t been paying much attention, psychedelic rock is once again coming on like an acid flashback. Most new bands mining this bygone era do so with a painful degree of transparency and come off sounding silly. Not Austin’s Black Angels. This coed outfit’s 2006 debut album,


He’s dominated the field for so long that it’s easy to forget there was a time in country music before George Strait. He has more number one singles than George Jones, Hank Williams, or Ray Price—in fact, he has more than any artist in any genre. So on album

One Hell of a Ride

Not bad for 75 years. It would take most artists two lifetimes to catch up to the output of wildly prolific Willie Nelson, and even then it’s inconceivable that anyone would leave a greater legacy. At first glance, the aptly titled box set One Hell of a Ride

In the Chute

A Dark Visionary

Art, like politics, is polarizing by nature. Although there are plenty of universally likable artists—Monet and his water lilies come to mind—the vast majority tend to elicit diametrically opposed reactions. John Alexander is one such example: You either love his stark, emotionally charged landscapes or you hate them. You

Book Review

The Triumph of Caesar

Just ten pages into The Triumph of Caesar, I had learned more Roman history from Steven Saylor than from all my high school and college professors combined. “Haruspicy was the Etruscan science of divination.” “Cato [was] leader of the opposition’s last stand against Caesar in Africa.” Indeed. In

Holy Moly

Word is that Ben Rehder might drop the curtain on his snarky Blanco County mystery series with Holy Moly, the sixth novel featuring square-jawed Johnson City game warden John Marlin. If so, the Austinite goes out on a high note with this screwball tale about “pastorpreneur” Peter Boothe,

Bill Bishop

In The Big Sort, the Austin political blogger and Pulitzer finalist for editorial writing addresses America’s tendency to segment itself into tiny, like-minded groups (a phenomenon he calls “clustering”). How did the “big sort” notion come to be, and what does it signify? [Sociologist] Robert Cushing and I

Abby McAfee Daigle, Wedding Planner

Born and raised in Austin, Daigle has helped pour champagne, choose flowers, taste cake, and pick color schemes for more than one hundred brides. Her family owns and runs a wedding and event facility in Austin. I’ve been working at Barr Mansion since they would let me. I started when

How to Play 42

About 120 years ago, two boys from Trapps Springs (now Garner) were caught in a forbidden pastime: playing cards. Their parents burned the offending deck and whipped the disobedient youngsters, but this led William Thomas and Walter Earl to find a loophole in the rules. “In those days Baptists considered

Texas Monthly Talks

Margaret Spellings

“If someone can show me a way that we’re going to attend to the needs of kids without finding out where they are, without diagnosing the problem, I’m all ears. But it’s not possible.”



Bill Bishop

In The Big Sort, the Austin political blogger and Pulitzer finalist addresses America’s tendency to segment itself into tiny, like-minded groups (a phenomenon he calls clustering). How did the “big sort” notion come to be, and what does it signify? [Sociologist] Robert Cushing and I began exploring why


Roar of the Crowd

Twist of Faith

With so great a host of believers around Matt and Kari Baker, it is tragic that no one saw the serious pain Kari felt or tried to seek professional help for her [“The Valley of the Shadow of Death,” March 2008]. It’s also tragic that Matt and Kari’s two

Say Hey Willie

To the famously short list of things that are certain in life—death and taxes—you can confidently add another: Willie Nelson sells copies of Texas Monthly. The iconic singer, golfer, actor, bus rider, weed smoker, and all-around good guy has been on our cover more times than anyone else (seven, this

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