suggests either sloppy reporting, or at times an attempt to convince out-of-state readers that Texans are just like people everywhere else, only more so. So Bo Pilgrim is described as “openly handing out tenthousand dollar checks on the House floor to any lawmaker who wanted one,” when he actually distributed the checks to key senators on the Senate floor. \(As if a poultry magnate handing out $10,000 checks to senators who were in a pivotal position to influence a vote on workers’ compensation was not sufficiently egregious for a Texas tale of influence-buying. Even if Port Arthur Senator Carl Parker, who wasn’t ofMark White, the former Democratic Governor who made a comeback attempt in the 1990 primary, is said to have received a generous home loan from “a lender [who] was a White appointee for the Rice University Board of Regents.” Rice has no board of regents, although it does have a board of governors. But because it is a private institution, board members are not appointed by the Texas governor. Neal Spelce, described as “an Austin TV newsman [who] accompanied Ann to Atlanta as her speech coach” when she delivered the keynote address to the 1988 Democratic national convention, actually ran a public relations consulting firm at the time, as he did when he performed the same service for New York Gov. Mario Cuomo four years earlier. It’s a small detail, but an important one, as the lines between journalism and professional promotionalism are sufficiently blurred these days. Spelce had left TV journalism more than 10 years earlier and didn’t return to the Austin TV station where he now works until 1990. And for the account of Clayton Williams “Bad weather is like rape,” campfire comment, the authors go to Sam Attlesy of the Dallas Morning News, ignoring the pivotal role played by Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Karen Potter, who helped convince the boys around the fire, and StarTelegram colleague Kaye Northcott, that the comment was newsworthy. Also, in their account of the campfire story, the authors write: ‘Bad weather, it’s like rape,’ Williams sighed to a female writer from the Houston Chronicle.” Though the twoinitial first name is androgynous, the mustache has always been a giveaway: R.G. Ratcliffe, the only Chronicle reporter to make it to Claytie’s roundup, is a man and if Claytie was sighing to R.G., well, maybe the Capitol press corps missed another story. Even Austin’s El Arroyo restaurant, known mostly for the smug right-wing subtext of its daily message board, is here served up as El Arroya, a Spanish-language, gender-agreement error not nearly as bad as the gender mixup someone made at the campfire in Alpine. The Thorny Rose of Texas, a collaborative work of freelance journalist Mike Shropshire and novelist Frank Schaefer, . both of Dallas, is also written in an ingratiating style, filled with rhetorical mechanisms that try to make the work seamless but somehow create seams of their own. ‘Little girls, like butterflies,’ a Robert Heinlein character, Lazarus Long, wrote, `need no excuses.’ Iona and Cecil no doubt shared that sentiment on September 1, 1933, as they gazed down at their newborn daughter.” Most critical readers aren’t going to buy that \(neither would a critical didn’t just begin with the strong first sen BY MICHAEL KING PRETTY BOY FLOYD By Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. 444 pp. New York: Simon & Schuster. $24. “What is the robbing of a bank, Compared to the founding of a bank?” Bertolt Brecht THE HOUSTON NEWSPAPERS have been entertaining the local populace of late with somber headlines about a bank robbery in Normangee, Texas, a rustic village some 130 miles north of the city. Apparently, a dozen Houston bad boys of that murderous age group from 18 to 24 decided to knock off the Normangee bank. Two of the alleged perpetrators had once lived in the town,.but the heist had all the hallmarks of an outside jobwould-be hardguys under the influence of one too many gangsta rap videos. In a town of 700, a gang of 12 outsiders was not exactly inconspicuous \(Did they think they were robrobbers donning masks before they ever reached the bank. They fled, in a hail of bullets, with an announced take of $170,000 \(sounds like a bundle until you enough to shoot a deputy sheriff before they killed an old woman for her car. Most were captured within 24 hours. The Normangee desperadoes were on my mind last week as I read the story of Charles Arthur Floyd, another young man Michael King is a freelance writer in Houston. tepee of the second paragraph: “The weather had been hot the day before, and Iona, alone and in the initial throes of labor, had walked the dusty road in front of their house to hurry the process.” Similar overwriting occurs throughout the book. Thorny Rose could have used a bit of pruning. The book provides, at best, a good chronicle and cast of charactersa program for the current election campaign. If, that is, the reader can trust that the authors got dates and names correct. For a more critical look at the current governor of Texas, readers might have to return to Straight from the Heart, Ann Richards’ autobiography. LI who took up bank-robbing, several depressions ago. Floyd, of course, has been mythologized in song and story as “Pretty Boy Floyd,” the Sallisaw, Oklahoma, farm boy who found bank-robbing slightly more lucrative than pushing a plow. Though his career lasted longer \(roughly from 1925 to than the Normangee hoodlums. None of these boys managed to discover the central principle of big-time thievery, most recently , re-established by the Savings & Loan cabal: If you intend to rob a bank, first go out and buy yourself one. Floyd’s colorful history is breezily recounted in Larry McMurtry’s and Diana Ossana’s Pretty Boy Floyd, an extended screenplay masquerading as a novel. According to the authors, they met in 1985 and began collaborating on Floyd, novel and screenplay, shortly thereafter. Given 4 glamorous cast and a competent cinematographer, the film could be a blockbuster, for Floyd’s life possesses legend, melodrama, comedy high and low, and of course plenty of shoot-’em-ups. Unfortunately, little of that potential is realized in McMurtry/Ossana’s prose, which even at 450 pages reads as though it were written to get through as quickly as possible. In dozens of brief, dialoguedriven scenes, it recounts the major occasions of Floyd’s adult life, from his first armed robbery, in St. Louis in 1925, to his death at the hands of an Ohio posse, in 1934. The entire story is told in more detail if less vivacity in Michael Wallis’ 1992 biography, Pretty Boy. Although Floyd would gain enormous Blue-Collar Crime THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.