What to see, hear, read, and watch this month to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy.
“Robert Smithson in Texas” (Dallas Museum of Art, through April 27): You may be familiar with the famed earth sculptor’s Spiral Jetty, in Utah’s Great Salt Lake, but as this retrospective demonstrates, Smithson also planned a number of ambitious projects in Texas, one of which was completed, though not by him: Amarillo Ramp, which Smithson was researching when he died in a 1973 plane crash near the site of the work.
Killer Women (ABC, January 7): This hour-long dramatic series—executive-produced by Sofia Vergara—didn’t invent the idea of a tough, female Texas Ranger (Jon Land’s Caitlin Strong novels, among others, got there first), but it does have the distinct advantage of starring Tricia Helfer, whom many fanboys will remember as Number Six, the pinup-worthy Cylon on the revival of Battlestar Galactica.
Lone Survivor (Universal Pictures, January 10): Houston native and Montgomery County resident Marcus Luttrell’s best-selling military memoir gets the big-screen treatment, with Mark Wahlberg in the lead role and Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, and Eric Bana in support. Expect writer-director Peter Berg to get the Texas details right; he’s already done us proud with the film and TV versions of Friday Night Lights.
True Detective (HBO, January 12): This pitch-black, eight-episode series about a years-long hunt for a serial killer is set in Louisiana, but it has Texas in its blood, thanks to native sons Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey and show creator Nic Pizzolatto, who grew up just over the border in Lake Charles, lived in Austin for a while, and wrote a memorable thriller called Galveston that vividly brought that city to seedy life.
Famous Writers I Have Known, James Magnuson (W.W. Norton, January 13): In this plucky caper a clumsy criminal assumes the identity of a Salinger-esque recluse hired to teach at an MFA program endowed by his longtime enemy, a wildly popular writer—who, not coincidentally, bears a strong resemblance to the real-life namesake of UT’s James A. Michener Center for Writers. Which Magnuson, not coincidentally, directs.
Revelation, Los Lonely Boys (Lonelytone, January 21): Nearly a year after singer-guitarist Henry Garza fell from a stage and almost died, he and his San Angelo–based brothers Jojo and Ringo take a chance, expanding their popular blues-rock-soul sound by adding touches of country, conjunto, and reggae, courtesy of some songwriting help from the likes of Texas singer Radney Foster.