Rose Cahalan

Rose Cahalan is managing editor at the Observer and also edits the magazine’s arts and culture coverage.

By Rose Cahalan:

“Even today, I say that my instrument is my breath. I cannot breathe without it.”
Culture

Rahim AlHaj, Iraqi Oud Virtuoso, on How Music Crosses Cultures

AlHaj, who performs in Austin on Friday, is a former political prisoner whose music fuses Eastern and Western influences.

Rahim AlHaj’s music can seem bleak at first. His 2017 album, Letters From Iraq, is a mournful meditation on the violence wrought by the U.S. military invasion of his home country. So it comes as something of a surprise that … Read More

Culture

‘Ghosts of Sugar Land’ Tracks a Texan’s Path to ISIS

In this contemplative, vulnerable new documentary, a group of friends try to understand why their former classmate embraced radical Islam.

One day in the summer of 2015, Bassam Tariq logged on to Facebook to see a long missive posted by a former friend, Warren Christopher Clark. “I am now currently living in the Islamic state,” Clark wrote. “I’m sure people … Read More

Reynolds performs The Desert at Mimms Ranch in Marfa in 2014. The site-specific work was the first part of a triptych that also included the bilingual cross-border opera, Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance.
Culture

Mr. Reynolds’ Opus

How Graham Reynolds became Texas’ top composer.

How Graham Reynolds became Texas’ top composer. by Rose Cahalan October 14, 2019 Walk into composer Graham Reynolds’ East Austin studio, and the first thing you’ll notice, perhaps surprisingly, is the books. There are two whole walls of them: floor-to-ceiling … Read More

A man takes a picture of a large snake.
News, News, Strangest State, The Issue

Strangest State: No, You Can’t Bring Your Missile Launcher on the Plane

Plus: Weirdness abounds at Wichita Falls Walmarts.

HOOD COUNTY // A man was surprisingly calm upon realizing that a rattlesnake was crawling out of his pickup’s air vent. Instead of crashing in a panic, as this reporter surely would have, Bob Crowell silently filmed a video of … Read More

Three rescuers on a street with a flooded car.
Culture

Two Houston Archives Gather Harvey Memories for Historians of the Future

They’re a time capsule of the destruction wrought by the deadliest storm to hit Texas since 1919.

In a photo taken shortly after Hurricane Harvey swamped Houston two years ago, a black luxury SUV sits submerged in murky brown floodwaters. In the background, a yellow construction crane hangs over a half-finished building—evidence of the city’s insatiable appetite … Read More

News, Strangest State, The Issue

Strangest State: This Month in Gator News…

Plus: a matchmaking scam, a thief’s Beto O’Rourke cover story, and a footlong shrimp.

POLK COUNTY // An alligator stopped traffic while it lounged on a highway near Lake Livingston. KFDM reports that the gator was so comfortable, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials resorted to using “large towing straps” to remove it from the … Read More

News, News, Strangest State, The Issue, Topics

Strangest State: May 2019

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

ATASCOCITA // A man tested the limits of Petco’s “all leashed pets allowed” policy by walking his 1,600-pound steer into the store. A Facebook video shows Shelly Lumpkin leading Oliver, a 14-year-old Ankole-Watusi, through the sliding doors as the steer … Read More

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