Senior editor Paula Mejía recently revisited an activity she had tried only briefly as a teenager: skateboarding. She also recently experimented with an art medium she’d never considered before: chain-saw wood sculpting. “I’m not handy in the least,” she says, “and I could barely lift my arms the next day. But it shook something loose in me—a willingness to try something and be bad at it.”
Amid these new pursuits, Paula is returning to one she’s long been very good at: writing. After serving as our culture editor since 2019 and enlivening our coverage with a vivid collection of fresh voices and subjects, Paula will begin writing full-time, on music, movies, art, architecture, sports, and whatever else catches her keen eye for emerging stories and personalities.
Succeeding Paula as editor of what we now call our arts and entertainment section is Josh Alvarez, who joins us from the Washington Post. Josh is a graduate of Stanford University and of the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University. He’s been a frequent visitor to Texas in recent years, including recently to El Paso, where he relished some of the fine fajitas at Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey’s. He says he aspires to “cover the talent and work that have made Texas increasingly influential in the world of arts and entertainment, as well as the new talent it’s attracting.” An avid golfer, hiker, and angler, Josh looks forward to climbing Guadalupe Peak and fly-fishing on the Devils River.
Back when General Electric was one of the world’s most admired big companies, a division manager knew she was successful when her bosses took away one of the burgeoning lines of business she’d been nurturing and turned it into a new division. We’re doing something similar here, by promoting Texas Monthly veteran Courtney Bond to the newly created post of executive editor for food and drink.
In our last issue, I described the impressive chain-saw juggling act (you may be sensing a theme here . . .) that executive editor Kathy Blackwell has been performing as she shepherds our stories on travel and the outdoors, style and design, and food and drink. We’re now going to let Kathy focus on expanding the first two of those subject areas, in print and online, while Courtney manages the rapid growth of our reporting on smoked meats, tacos, fine dining, and bars.
An Austin native, Courtney joined TM in 1997. She has written and edited stories about travel and food and is especially valued as a second editor on complex stories, where she’s quick to spot and fix a clumsy phrase or lapse in logic. She will oversee a Texas cookbook that we’ll publish through our partnership with Harper Wave; our barbecue issue, scheduled for November; and periodic special issues on dining, cooking, and beverages. And she plans to follow more of the best neighborhood and small-town spots that serve longtime Texas favorites such as chicken-fried steak and fried catfish, as well as the restaurants specializing in the cuisines of Texas immigrants from around the world. Here’s why I think Courtney is the ideal editor for this new role: her two fondest memories of Texas dining, she says, include “going to Luby’s with my grandmother and loading up on fried okra” and savoring the fine French cuisine at the late, lamented Le Rêve, in San Antonio.
I hope you’ll enjoy the compelling stories that Paula, Josh, and Courtney will pursue in the coming months.