The State of Texas: August 11, 2014
The grandmaster of Texas Monthly, Gary Cartwright, turned eighty-years-young on Sunday. The trick to his success, said the man himself while accepting the Texas Institute of Letter’s lifetime achievement award in 2012, is fairly simple: “Don’t let the bastards know that you’re not in control.” In that respect, he’s certainly fooled a lot of people. To celebrate, Texas Monthly staffers had the impossible task of picking their favorite Cartwright stories.
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Richard Linklater’s next film will be a quasi-autobiographical narrative documenting the auteur’s effort to become a pitcher for the Houston Astros. Kidding! But Linklater did throwout the first pitch at Houston’s Minute Maid Park yesterday. It’s a celebratory, full-circle moment, since in Linklater’s latest film, the Astros actually hit a home run and thus provided a great, real-life scene for Boyhood.
Drink Tickets to the Gun Show — “The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said Friday that it is seeking public comment on a proposed rule change to allow alcohol sales during gun shows held in facilities already permitted to sell alcohol,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. The proposed rule change would require that “all the guns are disabled and there is no live ammunition on the premises.” On the bright side, the rule would “also allow alcohol sales at historical reenactments that involve firearms” but only if “the firearms are historically accurate” (no word yet on whether the booze has to be of the historically accurate, rot-gut quality). Perhaps a bit surprisingly, some gun show aficionados aren’t so gung-ho about the idea, but one supporter of the proposal said she “considered being able to buy alcohol at a gun show the same as buying a beer at a baseball game or a rock concert.” So long as it doesn’t go down like the Cleveland Indians/Texas Ranges ten-cent beer night, things should be fine.
Mad Men (and Women) of Politics — The state’s November political races are kicking into high gear, and the Texas Tribune has the lowdown on dueling campaign ads from Attorney General Greg Abbott and state senator Wendy Davis. In Abbott’s case, it’s clear he’s trying shore up some female and Hispanic voters. The “first major statewide TV ad buy in the fall race for governor” feature’s Abbott’s mother-in-law, a first generation Mexican-American, who cut ads in both English and Spanish. The ad itself is pretty straight forward—Greg is Texas-tested and mother-approved—and not quite as entertaining as his previous effort, which turned Abbott into a target for the Alamo Drafthouse. However, it’s Wendy Davis’s ad, “a significant buy … in multiple media markets,” that’s getting a lot of attention. It “tells the story of a woman who … was raped in Seguin by a vacuum cleaner salesman. She sued Kirby Co. and the case went to the Supreme Court on appeal. In a 6-3 vote, the court held the company liable, saying it should have required that a background check be performed on the salesman.” Abbot was the one who wrote the dissenting opinion and Davis’s campaign seems to be hoping the Willie Horton effect works on the local level, too.
Los Nuevos Niños en la Clase — The approaching new school year has administrators talking about what will happen in the communities dealing with the influx of unaccompanied minors. “With many of those children remaining in Texas, public school administrators face the challenge of providing an education for them when schools open later this month,” reports the Texas Tribune. “Though the first day of classes is only weeks away, education officials say Texas school districts have not been told how many youths they will need to enroll, complicating efforts to prepare for their arrival.” A Texas Education agency lawyer said “the message from the point of view of the school districts is that they know how to do this. They can serve these kids. … But they need to know the numbers ahead of time.” A spokesman for the state education service center said it’s “still a wait-and-see approach to see where we are.” As the piece notes, “Since January, about 4,200 of the 30,000 children placed with sponsors have settled in Texas — more than in any other state.”
Mistakes Were Embalmed — We all make mistakes, it just happens that mistakes by a funeral home seem a lot more terrifying. Two Houston families went through quite an ordeal recently when “the wrong woman had been placed in the casket [the] family selected and then buried in the grave,” according to the Houston Chronicle. The first few paragraphs of the story read like an H.P. Lovecraft tale: “When Bruce Lawson visited a south Houston funeral home to view his mother’s body, he didn’t recognize the lady who had been dressed for her final farewell. Already bereaved and now flustered, he was assured by mortuary staff that the woman was indeed the matriarch of his family. … He contends the funeral director replied: ‘We don’t make those kinds of mistakes.'” But it turns out they did, and the mixed-up bodies had to be exhumed and re-buried. As expected, it’s been a pretty emotional ride for both families. “[Lawson] said it was difficult for relatives to see his mother’s decomposing body when she was exhumed after about four days in the Lawson grave.” The funeral home has apologized, and it is expected that lawsuits will be filed. Said the lawyer for the families, a bit too on-point, “This is gross negligence.”