1.  Always Keep ’Em Guessing

According to the Rick Perry camp, sometime this month our governor will announce whether he plans to run for Texas’s top office yet again. The conventional wisdom has it that he won’t, for various reasons—he doesn’t want to tick off Attorney General Greg Abbott, he’s done the job for long enough, he might not win—and will instead focus his energies on a second presidential run, perhaps this time sans maple syrup.

But Perry has a knack for upending conventional wisdom. As the Democratic political adviser Harold Cook puts it, “Rick Perry’s not running for reelection. I know this because he’s not hiring the right kind of staff and he’s not raising the right kind of money. I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt and with complete confidence, and more than anything I know that what I just said is completely worthless, because Rick Perry is fully capable of turning on a dime, changing his mind, and running for reelection.”

You can hear a variation on the same notion from the other side of the aisle. “Don’t underestimate the emotive factor of these decisions,” says one Republican operative. “Fresh off the disappointment of the 2012 presidential primary, the need for electoral validation may be stronger and more urgent than we think. And that’s why a 2014 gubernatorial run cannot be ruled out.”

Nor can virtually anything else. If you ask a group of Capitol insiders what to expect from Perry when you’re willing to expect the unexpected, you get a lot of different answers, ranging from the fanciful to the serious.

Jason Stanford, a Democratic consultant and writer, offers one semi-plausible scenario for Perry. “He will get the UT regents to hire him as chancellor,” Stanford says. “Somehow, this will not fix anything. Mack Brown and Rick Barnes, for example, will be given contracts for life.”

“I think a variation of the Mike Huckabee model looms in Governor Perry’s future,” says a more sober-minded Austin pollster. “He’ll run something akin to a pre-presidential-nomination shadow campaign in an effort to rehabilitate his brand but won’t jump in deep enough to actually participate in any primaries. From there, it’s on to a second career as a professional media conservative, paid speaker, and board member.”

Steve Munisteri, the chair of the state Republican party, also thinks the speaking circuit or a Fox News gig is a possibility in the unlikely event that Perry drops out of electoral politics altogether. “I could also see him doing something with Texas A&M University—his ties there are very deep,” says Munisteri. There’s one thing, however, Munisteri can’t see Perry doing: nothing. “I’m pretty sure he’s not going to retire back to Paint Creek. Nothing against Paint Creek. I just don’t see him going quietly into the night.”
—Jeff Salamon

2.  The Austin City Limits Trees, Icon of Long-Gone Era, Are Dead at 31 

The Austin City Limits trees, which for three decades helped convince millions of television viewers that the PBS concert series was taped outdoors, have died at the age of 31, according to the show’s executive producer, Terry Lickona. The cause of death was obsolescence, brought on by the recent introduction to the show of high-definition cameras that made clear that the trees were not real and by the 2011 move to a state-of-the-art studio that looks like an actual studio.
First introduced in 1982, during the show’s seventh season, the trees, in combination with a wooden replica of the Austin skyline, offered viewers across the country a bucolic vision of Austin as a place that invited performers such as Jimmy Buffett and Elvis Costello to play beneath the stars on a hill overlooking the city. That notion of Austin as an eccentric little college town died sometime during the mid-nineties tech boom, but its passing was not universally acknowledged until many years later.
Originally, real trees were acquired for each ACL taping in a barter arrangement with a local nursery. But in 1986 the show invested in an array of fake potted plants and a Frankenstein creation: artificial foliage mounted on actual branches that had been found following a storm on the University of Texas campus. After a quarter century, they were getting “ratty,” Lickona said. “Upkeep was a hassle.”
The trees were preceded in death by Liberty Lunch, Les Amis, and the stand of cottonwoods at Deep Eddy. They are survived by the Treaty Oak.

—Andy Langer

3.  At Sea With Brazos

Brazos’s self-released 2009 debut, Phosphorescent Blues, was a psychedelic-tinged pop delight that seemingly sprang from nowhere. Yet despite raves from critics, nowhere is exactly where it went. Needing to shake things up, Austin singer-songwriter Martin Crane, the man behind the moniker, moved to New York City, where he met up with some new collaborators. Saltwater (Dead Oceans) boasts a more muscular tone than its predecessor, which nicely propels the songs, despite their dense arrangements and exotic trimmings. Crane’s tracks can feel loaded up with too many good ideas—a few meander—but his light touch keeps even ponderous topics (isolation, ghost ships, Moby Dick) sounding weightless. Still, the songs that stick to a more straightforward verse-chorus-verse structure (“Always On,” “How the Ranks Was Won”) work the best. At times, Crane’s shimmering vocals bring to mind James Mercer, front man for the Shins, another pop band with lofty ambitions. A bit of self-restraint is all it might take for Brazos to find similar success.
—Jeff McCord

4.  Texans on Ice

On June 30 Arlington native Seth Jones, the son of former Dallas Mavericks forward Popeye Jones, will likely become the first African American ever selected as the number one pick in the National Hockey League draft. But that’s not the only ice the eighteen-year-old will break: he will join Flower Mound’s Chris Brown (who played five games for the Phoenix Coyotes this past season) as the first true Texans in the NHL. There are, however, three other NHL players who were born here but didn’t stick around.
—Jason Cohen 

5.  Mireille Enos is Ready For Her Close-Up

The Houston-born actress Mireille Enos’s Hollywood moment has arrived. This month, she returns as the troubled detective Sarah Linden in the third season of AMC’s The Killing and co-stars as Brad Pitt’s wife in the zombie spectacle World War Z—her first major film role. Yet in our age of tween sensations and tabloid celebrities, the 37-year-old Enos has earned her moment the old-fashioned way, one break at a time. Educated at Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and then Brigham Young University, she first won attention on Broadway, for her Tony-nominated supporting turn in the 2005 revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Next came a recurring part on HBO’s Mormon drama Big Love, as the justice-seeking Kathy Marquart and her corruptible and cunning twin sister, JoDean; it was the rare double role that steadfastly resisted show-offery. With her pallid complexion and reddish-blond hair, the actress recalls a young Sissy Spacek—and often displays a Spacek-like mixture of waifish vulnerability and unexpected steeliness. On The Killing, for which she received an Emmy nomination in 2011, she offers a much-needed dose of purpose on a show that too often turns into a boggy stew of red herrings. For World War Z, she would seem to be neatly matched with Pitt, another expert underplayer who doesn’t need to shout to capture our imagination. There’s more in the works for her, too. We’ll see her later this year in Devil’s Knot, from director Atom Egoyan, and next year opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the thriller Ten. Which is to say Mireille Enos is one of those two-decades-in-the-making overnight sensations whose moment seems built to last.
—Christopher Kelly