But It’s Right There

Another travel article about Mexico [“Mezcal, Mole, and More,” September 2023]? Um, what’s the name of your magazine? Have you run out of places in Texas to write about? It seems Texas Monthly is a little like Ted Cruz: when your attention ought to be focused on this state, you instead go to Mexico. 
Blake Gumprecht, El Paso 

This Month’s Number One Letter Writer From Spring

Thanks for the fascinating “We’re #1” articles [September 2023], which revealed how much the Lone Star State really does sprawl all over the place, both physically and philosophically. The good (leading the country in wind and solar energy) countered by the bad (leading the country in the number of medically uninsured). And what is with this competition with Florida? Surely not to see who can ban the most books. Although I am glad to hear that we likely trail them in tiger population! 
John Butler, Spring

Sides Kicked

Is the article “The 25 Best New (and Improved) BBQ Joints in Texas” [September 2023] a review of barbecue? In the write-up about Reese Bros Barbecue, in San Antonio, I see hardly any mention of their barbecued meat. Your barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn, praised their “charred-jalapeño salsa” and “jalapeño-and-serrano salsa,” along with their guacamole, pickled onions, and pinto and refried beans. Oh, I do see mention of carnitas and “juicy brisket.” I don’t know about you, but I eat barbecued meat at barbecue joints and don’t go for the sides and sandwich dressing. 
Kent P., San Antonio 

Editors’ note: Barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn responds: “Superb meat is a given at all the joints listed in our story, which is the primary reason they were included. Reese Bros just happens to offer more than superb meat, but I assure you that any barbecued-meat fan should be happy to have an establishment of such quality in such close proximity. I encourage you to experience their barbecued meat yourself.”

The Tree in The Tree of Life Lives!

I read your article on Hollywood’s fascination with Smithville [“The Best Little Film Town in Texas,” September 2023], which included the story of Terrence Malick and crew moving a massive oak tree, via helicopter and truck trailer, to a home in Smithville during the production of The Tree of Life more than a decade ago. You didn’t mention how the oak tree has fared. Did it survive the move or did it eventually die? I can’t imagine a tree that large surviving a transplant. Hoping it did.
Karen A. Burns, Houston 

Editors’ note: The oak survived and is thriving. According to the piece’s author, Sean O’Neal, the tree appears more lush than it did when the film was released, and a ladder from the movie still leans against it.  

This article originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of Texas Monthly. Subscribe today.