November 2006 Issue

On the Cover

Agent of Change

In four years as president of Texas A&M University, former CIA director Robert M. Gates—who knows a thing or two about leading a strong, hidebound, misunderstood culture—has left few areas of campus life untouched. But putting sushi in the dining halls is nothing compared with overhauling the Aggie brand.


The Chop Is in the Mail

You want to send your granny a grapefruit this Christmas? Your bro a brisket? Your pop a pie? We’ve taste-tested more than four hundred foodstuffs that Texas companies will happily ship to your door, and more than forty are first-class.


Acting Up

At the Giddings State School, violent teenagers come to terms with their horrific crimes—and learn how to avoid committing them again—through role-playing exercises in a jailhouse version of group therapy. This is what your tax dollars are paying for? Well, it works. For a while, at least.



Music Review

Trying to Never Catch Up

Your band can’t get going? Here’s some advice: Take a look at your singer. If his or her vocals lack character, there’s little chance of moving beyond the odd house party. There are many reasons the self-released debut from Austin’s WHAT MADE MILWAUKEE FAMOUS, Trying to Never Catch Up (Barsuk),

Music Review

The Californian

Being Sandra Bullock’s onetime boy toy as well as the leader of a scatological frat band known as the Scabs is not the résumé from which instant respectability springs. He’s no critic’s darling, yet Austin rocker BOB SCHNEIDER seems utterly unconcerned with such things (he once had the cheek to

Music Review

War and Peace

“Civilizations wearin’ thin/Like an old sad shirt.” BUTCH HANCOCK pulls no punches on his latest diatribe, WAR AND PEACE (Two Roads). Hancock emerges from his Terlingua exile with his first solo album in six years, and he’s obviously been brooding out in the desert. Those reticent to have another singer

Book Review

The Long Night of Winchell Dear

At a mere 158 pages, THE LONG NIGHT OF WINCHELL DEAR calls to mind that kvetch of the hoary Catskills resort patron: “The food is terrible—and such small portions!” To be fair, the latest from brand-name Hill Country novelist ROBERT JAMES WALLER is not terrible, but it is disappointing—slapdash and

Book Review

In a Special Light

It’s tempting to focus on ELROY BODE’s celebrations of life’s simple pleasures (birds, interesting strangers, barbershops) in this El Pasoan’s new collection of microscopically short ruminations, IN A SPECIAL LIGHT. But there is no denying the insistent melancholy (verging on depression) that gives the book grit and balance. Bode cuts

Book Review

The Lives of Rocks

Fort Worth native RICK BASS has loaded his earthy story collection, THE LIVES OF ROCKS, with three-way relationships of all stripes—platonic, romantic, familial, adversarial—and with characteristic economy of language, he mines a wide range of human emotion from these mélanges à trois. “Goats” is a gentle slapstick about two teenage

Author Interview

Douglass St. Clair Smith

The SubGenius Psychlopaedia of Slack: The Bobliographon is—how to put this—the most unusual text most folk will ever encounter. Its Fort Worth–bred author-editor midwifed the birth of the for-profit Church of the SubGenius (“the only religion to pay its taxes”) more than 25 years ago and remains the wizard behind

Artist Interview

Barbara Orbison

Barbara and Roy Orbison were married nineteen years before his death, in 1988. Just released are three of the legendary rocker’s classics, Crying, In Dreams, and Sings Lonely and Blue (Monument/Legacy), along with the new DVD documentary, In Dreams, which Barbara helmed as executive producer.The DVD is fascinating. It must


Pat's Pick


Juicy, very juicy. as my happily dazed friend remarked, perusing the tabletop, “There’s so much to dip your bread in that you hardly know where to reach next.” Consider yourself warned: The one thing you do not want to do at Catalan is run out of bread, lest you miss


Seared Salmon Over Cauliflower Purée

Catalan, Houston1 large head of cauliflower, cut into pieces with stems removed 1 clove of garlic 2 cups milk 4 tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper juice from 2 preserved lemons, or use fresh lemons if you cannot find preserved 1 shallot, sliced 2 cups white wine 1 cup heavy

Books That Cook

Books That Cook

The women of the Junior League of Odessa believe there’s nothing better than “puttin’ on a pair of boots, meetin’ friends and eatin’ some good food.” And in The Wild Wild West: Cuisine From the Land of Cactus and Cowboys, the ladies show Texans how to celebrate the legends and

Web Exclusive

Douglass St. Clair Smith

The SubGenius Psychlopaedia or Slack: The Bobliographon is—how to put this—the most unusual text most folk will ever encounter.

Web Exclusive

Go Postal

Mail your friends and family holiday treats, from ham and cheese to apple cider and tamales.

Web Exclusive

Point of No Return

Senior editor Pamela Colloff on going to Sarita to see first-hand what hardships illegal immigrants face as they try to pass a South Texas checkpoint.

Web Exclusive

Playing for Keeps

Senior editor Katy Vine talks about visiting the Giddings State School, a juvenile detention facility where she observed therapists helping kids who’ve committed violent offenses wrestle their inner demons.

Web Exclusive

Mail-order Mania

Senior editor Patricia Sharpe and foodie Brooke Ferguson discuss the time, the tasting, and the tenacity involved in reviewing more than four hundred mail-order food items.

Web Exclusive


Senior executive editor Paul Burka on Texas A&M University president Robert Gates and his plans for change.


Around the State

Around the State

Jordan’s PickDallas OperaDallasLIKE SO MANY BABY BOOMERS warily approaching that milestone birthday—yes, you know which one—the Dallas Opera finds itself at the contemplative crossroads of half a century. Happily, there’s no midlife crisis in sight: Beginning this month, the venerated institution will be treating its guests to a star-strewn golden-anniversary

Editor's Letter

The Spy Who Loved Them

WHEN I MOVED TO TEXAS TO WORK for Texas Monthly in late 1991, the two words staring out at me from an upcoming cover were “Aggie Sex.” Was I on a different planet? I quickly got up to speed on what an Aggie was—sex I’d heard of—but it took me

Roar of the Crowd

Thin Ice

ABOUT YOUR SEPTEMBER COVER … As a lifetime Texan and hockey dad, I’m a bit offended. Okay, I’m over it. However, I’m wondering if you know that the state of Texas houses more pro hockey teams than any other state. I’m wondering if you know just how many kids

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