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Roar of the Crowd

Readers respond to the November issue.

By December 2013Comments

Our November cover, a two-panel photo illustration evoking the euphoria and seemingly boundless horizon of Texas’s most current oil boom, drew a jubilant collection of feedback: Time reporter Sam Gustin tweeted, “That’s one hell of a great cover,” while @SecretTxLege weighed in by tweeting at us with a YouTube clip from Ocean’s Eleven titled “That Is the Sexiest Thing I Have Ever Seen.” And while we’re grateful for the praise, we’re most appreciative of this reminder from @Jennifer_Hiller, who reports on the Eagle Ford Shale for the San Antonio Express-News, that a cover is more than just a pretty picture: “Loved the Eagle Ford story by @bryanmealer in @TexasMonthly. But if oil goes to $70, I blame the cover.”

And now, a sampling of feedback from our readers:

Shale Game

Your November cover story is a puff piece that completely overlooks the overwhelming issue of the twenty-first century: global climate change turning to global climate hell [“Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money”]. Oil and the other fossil fuels have brought a small percentage of humankind unprecedented prosperity, but now their excessive use is the equivalent of drinking Jonestown Kool-Aid for human civilization. This is not reaching a mainstream audience primarily because the media either don’t cover it sufficiently or print climate-denial pieces that cause confusion and more denial.
Roland James, Seguin 

Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, when the Eagle Ford Shale plays out, when the pipes and rigs sit rusting, when boarded-up windows adorn the shiny new schools (abandoned due to lack of enrollment), when the prefab hotels and strip malls and man camps crumble into eyesores, where will the millionaires be then? Far, far away. While families like the Cernys continue to suffer, and we all regret the loss of thousands of acre-feet of precious Texas water.
Laura Bray, San Antonio

Unfair to Midland

What a terrible representation of Midland [“Meanwhile, in West Texas . . .”]. There are a lot of hard workers in this town who aren’t sipping tea bragging about their millions and their ignorant wives. Disappointed that this is the way this article was approached.
Sara, via texasmonthly.com

So many negative comments. When our economy is bad, people are crying. When our economy is great, people are crying even more. I am happy the way it is right now, raking in the money. And when there is a bust, that’s the time to relax.
Cresencio Aguilar, via facebook

Drill Seeker

I greatly enjoyed Loren Steffy’s article about George Mitchell [“The Energy Hunter”]. In the late seventies I worked on a well in Galveston that he was drilling, which employed a number of new and esoteric technologies, one being directional drilling. Though I never met him, the people I worked with from his company were all top-drawer and very sharp, which indicated to me why Mitchell was successful and a pioneer in so many industries. They were always looking for a better way to do everything, and it was his leadership that permeated the organization. We made one heck of a well: the last time I went to Galveston, the Christmas tree was still on the wellhead producing! We need more George Mitchells these days, and not just in the energy sector.
Danny Huckabee, Katy

Loren Steffy’s thorough report on fracking innovator George Mitchell overlooked an important factor in his success: the governmental support of his efforts. Steffy’s only glancing reference to this includes a cavalier dismissal of federal subsidies and tax incentives for the development of alternative fuels. Perhaps he should have read the February 2012 article “Lessons From the Shale Revolution,” which appeared in a publication of the American Enterprise Institute, hardly a left-leaning, tree-hugging source. Among other things, the article points out that “Mitchell turned to the (federally funded) Gas Research Institute and federal laboratories for help in 1991. GRI paid for Mitchell to attempt his first horizontal well.” A little credit where credit is due, please.
Roger Tuttle, Fort Worth

Art Attack

“ ‘I loved the fact that someone with some bucks was putting something there,’ Dick DeGuerin told me” [“What Is Art?”]. For people who measure all things by money, it’s art because it cost a lot and has no utilitarian purpose (that said, for Playboy it has a utilitarian purpose: rebranding). That’s a definition, but not one that bodes well for our culture.

Marfa is in danger of becoming just one more place where money talks and nothing else matters—not original or even interesting appropriated thinking (there is none in this installation), not respect for the landscape (it’s badly sited), and certainly not quality (the workmanship, other than the neon, is shockingly bad).
Kokeehead, via texasmonthly.com

The comparisons to Andy Warhol or Richard Prince lack an important factor: neither of those artists was asked to create “corporate portraiture” (as Richard Phillips eloquently describes it) by the brands they evoked. Art is open to a spectrum of individual definitions, but if it arises within a marketing department, the legal constraints are, and should be, fundamentally different.
Hunterrible, via texasmonthly.com

Book Remarks

Don Graham’s article is so unbelievably condescending and obnoxious and juvenile that I wanted to throw the magazine into my fireplace [“The Class of ’63”]. He obviously has never taken the time to actually read some of the truly remarkable books about the Kennedy assassination that have been published over the past few years. If I could suggest just a few: Family of Secrets, by Russ Baker; Brothers, by David Talbot (online journalism pioneer and founder of Salon.com); and JFK and the Unspeakable, by James Douglass. These books are written not by political hacks or people living in their parents’ basement but by very respected journalists with long track records of investigative research in all kinds of subjects. Our country will never evolve out of its adolescent stage until it comes to grips with JFK’s murder. And gatekeepers like Don Graham do not help the situation. 
Brian Baccus, Lubbock

How can Texas Monthly print a story about some of the leading books on the assassination of JFK without even mentioning Killing Kennedy, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, a best-seller for almost all of this year? 
Art Casper, Houston

Highway Robbery

It makes me sick to hear you bragging about all the oil money lying about in the Rainy Day Fund, all while social programs for the poor and our public schools are being cut monthly [“Road to Nowhere”]. Our citizens deserve better than this. The GOP seems dead set on cutting programs like Social Security and Medicare, all while lining their pockets. Texas’s roads and bridges were designed and built decades ago. Railroad tracks, sidewalks, curbs, and pipelines are falling apart at record rates. What is it going to take to spend some money on Texas and our future? Why wait until it’s broken to fix it? I’d rather do preventive maintenance than rebuild after a tragedy. I’d bet if we needed (wanted) a new football stadium, we’d find the money for it.
Ted Holland, Onalaska

The designs of the highways in these congested cities are what leads to all the congestion. I have noticed that most of the congestion starts where traffic is merging. And as far as the water matters, I think we are still fighting the reservoir they are wanting to build to get more water to Dallas; only problem is, it will put a great deal of East Texas underwater. From reading the article I’m not sure what the author’s solution to the money woes is, but I sure hope it is not a state income tax. So many greedy people in this state keep pushing that, and I wish they would leave it alone.
Janice Sipes High, via facebook 

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