October 2007 Issue

On the Cover

River Deep, Mountain High

There are any number of fun, adventurous, and unexpected things to do in the Big Bend region of far West Texas. Here are fifteen of my favorites, including scuba diving in Balmorhea, gliding over Marfa, drinking a microbrew in Alpine, horseback riding in Fort Davis, and floating through the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande.


Dinner Is Served

Austin Street Cafe, MarfaThis renovated adobe house, on a quiet corner a few blocks off Marfa’s main drags, is as dapper and welcoming as a fifties-era fantasy housewife in heels and starched apron holding a plate of warm cookies. The floors are glossy white, abundant windows open to the

The Unbankables

All over Dallas are working-class dreamers with more will than wallet, would-be entrepreneurs who’d start their own businesses if only they had savings, good credit, home equity. That’s what brings them to the PLAN Fund.

Home on The Range

Cibolo Creek RanchNeed your space but can’t afford to buy it? You can rent it by the night at Cibolo Creek Ranch, which clocks in with a whopping 35,000 acres of desert mountains, unexpected springs, and far-reaching history. The resort’s expansive nature extends to its rooms, big enough to

The Evolver

“All you’ve got is a famous name,” a Republican operative told George W. Bush. But six years later he was governor, and six years after that he was president. And six years after that, his place in history—not to mention the fate of the world—is a little uncertain.



Music Review


By now, the novelty of the small-town family band Eisley has worn off; it’s not enough that the five youngsters learned to play because they had little else to do or that they went from their parents’ Tyler coffee-house to Madison Square Garden in 2003. Combinations (Reprise) is

Music Review

Washington Square Serenade

Don’t expect to pick right up on the acrid leftist dogma of 2004’s The Revolution Starts . . . Now. The new Steve Earle album, Washington Square Serenade (New West), finds the singer’s head in a completely different place. Relocated to NYC and happily wed to singer Allison

Book Review

The Last Jew Standing

Themes of family and loyalty provide a nice counterbalance to the gruesome violence (wood chipper, anyone?) in The Last Jew Standing, the fourth excellent offering from lit noir master Michael Simon. The action begins when small-time hoodlum Ben Reles shows up on the doorstep of his son, Lieutenant

Book Review

The Tecate Journals

Expectations run low for a river-paddling diary named after a popular (though decidedly watery) Mexican cerveza, which accounts in part for the pleasure of discovering The Tecate Journals: Seventy Days on the Rio Grande, in which Laredo journalist and writing professor Keith Bowden documents his grueling voyage along

Book Review


Texas-raised news anchor Jim Lehrer is too much the gentleman to author a full-blown satire, but he’s not above a genial send-up of middling America—the Midwest, the middle class, and the midlife crisis—in his crisply executed novel Eureka. Fifty-nine-year-old insurance executive Otis Halstead, secretly frustrated over his abandoned

Author Interview

Clayton Williams

The colorful Midland oilman, profiled by journalistMike Cochran in Claytie: The Roller-Coaster Life of a Texas Wildcatter, has made and lost fortunes, but he is best known for his unsuccessful 1990 gubernatorial campaign against Ann Richards.The oil business has always been boom and bust. Which is more satisfying, the

Laurens Fish III, Funeral Director

Laurens Fish III was born and raised in Austin. A fourth-generation funeral director, he is following in the tradition of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He is the managing partner of Fish Funeral Services, which handles more than one thousand funerals each year and has buried many notable Texans.I’m not

How to Fry Up a Batch of Corny Dogs

The corn dog’s birthplace may be disputed among gastronomists, but there is no denying that the corny dog, as the fried delicacy is known in these parts, made its first appearance at the State Fair of Texas. Dallas native Neil Fletcher formulated the recipe in 1942, set up a

Artist Interview

Billy Joe Shaver

For his first all-gospel release, Everybody’s Brother, the 68-year-old outlaw country legend assembled a cast that includes Tanya Tucker, Kris Kristofferson, and John Carter Cash. Why a gospel album now? It was time. It’s strong-medicine gospel, like “If you don’t love Jesus, go to hell”

Ray Benson

“I’m a personality and a singer—that’s how I make my living—but I’m always a guitar player.”

Music Review

The Shepherd’s Dog

Onetime film professor Sam Beam, who makes his records under the nom de plume Iron and Wine (and at his home in Dripping Springs), began his career tentatively, whispering confessional tales over meager accompaniment. But he’s gained confidence and ambition over the years, so much so that The


Books That Cook

No misnomer seems more indelible to Texas than the conflation of “Mexican” food and “Tex-Mex.” And, in her recently published cookbook Mexican Light: Healthy Cuisine for Today’s Cook/Cocina Mexicana Ligera: Para el Cocinero Actual, Kris Randolph, a native of Houston who now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and

The Filter: Events

Museum With a View

Corpus Christi “The Sparkling City by the Sea might just deserve a big colored thumbtack on the state’s cultural map after all.” That was our assessment last October as the Art Museum of South Texas unveiled its new 28,000-square-foot wing. In the year since, the expanded digs have ushered

Web Exclusive

American Dreamers

These six entrepreneurs are members of a unique Dallas program that is bringing the promise of microcredit to the Untied States: one small business at a time.

Jordan's Pick

Big State Festival

Here comes another all-the-decibels-you-can-handle musical gathering. The Big State Festival, which spans a weekend this month (and has a moniker only a Texan could love), is aiming to do for country music what the Austin City Limits Music Festival does for rock and roll: that is, lure in thousands

Pat's Pick


Like a summer blockbuster that’s been anticipated for months, überchef Dean Fearing’s domain at the new Ritz-Carlton in Dallas finally opened for business in mid-August—and how. The seven dining rooms (yes, seven, each with its own ambience) filled up immediately, and the hotel’s Rattlesnake Bar was colonized by the


Editor's Letter

The Ones That Got Away

One of the inevitable realities of being in business for nearly 35 years is that you have a lot of ex-employees (all of them gruntled, I’m sure). Even though a surprisingly high number of the names on our masthead—seven!—have been here for more than three decades, the vast majority

Roar of the Crowd

All the King’s Men

Your article “The Next Frontier” captured the essence of the King Ranch, its history, family, finance, and future [August 2007]. And the black and white photos by Kurt Markus were perfect; color would have ruined them. I felt as though I were there.Sandra WrayAustinI can appreciate your work

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