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State of Texas: Sept. 27, 2013

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Photos of the Day

Big. Texan. And better than Ever.

Longread of the Day

After fifty pigskin-less years, Houston Baptist University decided to finally start a football team. They had to build the program, literally, from the ground up: “HBU also didn’t have a football field, a football coach, a football helmet, a helmet logo or a ticket office for any of its 14 varsity sports.” The Houston Press‘s look into the the school’s gridiron field of dreams is a wonderful read.

Daily Roundup

Too Big To Wait — He’s baaaaack. The Texas icon has returned in all his flaming glory (too soon?) and a day early to boot. Officials said they had to push his unveiling up because of strong Texas winds. Clearly, even the heavens couldn’t wait. What was supposed to be the big curtain drop today has now been labeled a “Welcome Back” event. That’s a much better spin than what State Fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding said could “best described as a premature birth,” according to the Houston Chronicle. There’ll be plenty written about Big Tex in the next few weeks. In the meantime, you’ll be happy to know that the healthy baby boy is 55-feet high and weighs 25,000 pounds—19,000 more pounds, and three-feet taller than Old Tex. He also, WFAA pointed out, has a darker complexion. But no one has yet heard the babe’s first screams since it has yet to be revealed who is providing the new voice (for our part we’re still holding out for Dan Rather). Mom and Dad are doing fine. Nursery hours run from today until October 20.

No One Saw This Coming — The likelihood of Wendy Davis’ gubernatorial campaign has just been elevated from maybe-probably to probably-definitely, which is about as unsurprising as Big Tex is tall. Nearly every major news publication is running with a tinsy-winsy item from Politico, which reported the Davis team has “begun informing influential Democrats that she intends to run for governor in 2014.” Politico has its source. And so does the AP. Unfortunately, the news is so obvious, all the sources are anonymous. Not that the public needed those sources. On Thursday, Davis solicited Tweeps to “chip in now to show the strength of our grassroots network.” The grand reveal doesn’t happen until  Oct. 3 and “it would be a major shock to her closest allies if she were to reverse course before that event and opt out of the election,” according to Politico. Which is a nice way of saying that big-spenders have already given a lot of money to her grassroots campaign.

Brothers’ Reunion Getting Smaller — The Aryan Brotherhood ain’t no joke, especially in Texas. Four members have left the group permanently and police are trying to figure out just how they went. According to Dane Schiller, the Houston Chronicle‘s resident Aryan Brotherhood expert, “[t]he cluster of deaths have raised the eyebrows of authorities who are considering everything from murder by rivals to an overdose to maybe a suicide being among the possibilities … The insular nature of the gang, where membership is for life and betrayal means death, has made it tougher for authorities to figure out what for sure is going on.” One thing the authorities know for sure is that one Brother is out for the count. Yesterday, sixty-eight-year-old Charles Roberts, an Aryan general, received his prison sentence, according to the Houston Chronicle. During his sentencing, Roberts was almost poetic, saying “I am done. I am fixin’ to be taken out of the game … I have pulled the wagon as far as I can.” Less poetic are the six murders Roberts committed on behalf of the gang. In Texas particularly, the group doesn’t mess around, garnering attention both nationally and here at Texas Monthly.

Banned in Texas — Speaking of Aryan-friendly activities like book burning, national Banned Book Week is reaching its final chapter. The event is basically Woodstock for librarians — mind-altering ideas are traded, reclusive rock stars like Harper Lee make an appearance and all types of loose moral activity happens under the covers. In honor, the ACLU of Texas published its 17th annual banned book report (high-five: @txbooklover). The whole thing is an interesting read but for the skimmy-dipping type, here’s some quick facts: There were fewer books banned in schools this year than any year since 2005. The highest percentage of banned books were in high school, the one place and time you really want kids to start exploring intellectual things. Clear Creek ISD banned the most books. The banned book with the most innocuous sounding name was Smile of a Dolphin. Not to ruin it for you, but it’s about animal emotions. So the book’s ban probably had more to do with timing than anything else. After all, deer season starts tomorrow.

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Manziel Still A Sure Bet for Pretty Boy Floyd

For updates throughout the day see Texas Monthly‘s Twitter feed. Jeff Winkler’s there too.

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