The State of Texas: April 7, 2014
Slideshow of the Day
Houston photographer Lokey has combined the best of three worlds—art, trucks, and huntin’—in his series about the various, and variously awesome, vehicles used by Texas quail hunters. It don’t get much better than this.
Portrait of the President as a Young Artist — This week President George W. Bush unveiled his series of oil paintings depicting world leaders. It’s no secret that Dubya has been dabbling in the finer arts since his retirement (see: Jay Leno), and this series, premiering at 43’s presidential library on the campus of Southern Methodist University, marks a major shift from what at first appeared to be a post-presidential hobby to a second career for Bush as an artist worthy of analysis and criticism. Unfortunately those reviews weren’t pretty. The New York Times casually mentions the “slightly ham-handed brushwork.” CBS News has a comprehensive roundup of criticism, noting that one critic from The Guardian backhandedly said, “They are not bad so much as cautious, vacant, even servile—paintings by an artist anxious, or perhaps incapable, of doing anything that might leave a mark.” Bush shouldn’t fret, of course. All truly great artists are misunderstood in their time.
Three-Peat? — To linger on the Bush family, could a third one ascend to the White House? In College Station on Sunday, Jeb Bush officially announced that he has no official announcement on the swirling subject of his potential run for president. But he did say “he’ll make his decision before year’s end,” according to the Associated Press. For its part, the New York Times, isn’t buying it just yet, saying, “Mr. Bush has taken few known steps to start building an organization and so it still may amount to nothing more than flirtation.” The Times piece also points to some obstacles the former Florida governor faces, including that the Republican could be considered too moderate by his party, and the fact that his own mother, “Barbara Bush, the former first lady . . . last year publicly suggested the country does not need another Bush in the White House.”
Rices In Crisis — The drought troubles are sticking to Texas like white on rice. The Associated Press has an extensive look at the devastating effects the three-year drought, coupled with population booms, has had on the state’s rice production. “The three-county area [of Colorado, Matagorda and Wharton counties] lost more than 1,200 jobs in the first year without irrigation water from the river,” and in the hardest-hit region, Matagorda County, “more than 90 percent of its rice acreage went unplanted in the first year without water from the Colorado. As a result, the direct value of its rice production plunged from $20.7 million to $2.4 million.” Farmers, tough as they tend to be, aren’t giving up their livelihood without a fight, namely by turning land over to easier-to-produce but less profitable corn.
The Chupacabra Chronicles — According to breaking news site TMZ, it’s a conspiracy that could and should rival that of the Kennedy Assassination. Jackie and Bubba Stock of Ratcliff, Texas, caught an animal they claim is a chupacabra (they even named him Chupie). It had to be put down because the animal was suffering, and now “animal regulators in Texas REFUSE to necropsy the dead animal,” according to the same organization that reports on Justin Beiber’s urinary habits. “Mike Cox . . . from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. tells TMZ . . . there’s no reason to perform tests . . . because his agency has determined Chupacabras are mythical creatures,” which prompted TMZ to ask, “what is the scientific basis to definitely exclude a Chupacabra as a possibility? Cox fired back, ‘There hasn’t been a new mammal discovered in Texas in centuries.'” And despite that fact that, as TMZ points out, new animal species are discovered in the world, LiveSciencelaid out a number of reasons this most recent creature could not possibly be a chupacabra. “As for the the final resting place of Chupie,” explains TMZ, “it’s a fireplace mantle. The finders are taking it to a taxidermist.”