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Editors: Nate Blakeslee, Karen Olsson Managing Publisher: Charlotte McCann Office Manager: Candace Carpenter Graphic Designer: Julia Austin Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Development Director: Susan Morris Intern: Chris Womack Special Projects: Jere Locke, Nancy Williams Contributing Writers: Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Louis Dithose, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Paul Jennings, Steven G. Kellman. Lucius Lomax, Jeff Mandell, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, John Ross. Staff Photographer: Alan Pogue Contributing Photo 6k aphers: Jana Birchum, Vic Hinterlang, Patricia Moore, Jack Rehm. Contributing Artists: Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Valerie Fowler, Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Ben Sargent, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Bob Eckhardt. Sissy Farenthold, John K. Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Gilberto Ocafias. The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040-4519/ 2000, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January and profit foundation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals: Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. VOLUME 92, NO. 23 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES SINCE 1954 EDITORIAL Here We Go Again Greetings from your new editors. Neither of us is new to the Observer, and as co-editors we plan to continue the long tradi tion of great reporting and writing that drew us here to begin with. We’ll be making some alterations, too, as have all the Observer’s past editorswhose various pairs of gigantic, unfillable shoes are strewn all over the office floor. What won’t change are the things that have always made the Observer an important publication: our writers call it like they see it. They write about things that matter to them. They write about a state which, for reasons we still haven’t quite figured out, is a breeding ground for absurdity. They explain as well as report. They wear their hearts on their pens. As a regional journal of politics and culture, the Observer is a strange bird. We aren’t just about politics and books, and we aren’t just about Texas. But one of the strengths of this publication is that our boundaries are loose, making room for satire and poetry and investigative pieces alike. And for all anyone says about the homogenization of American culture, Texas still has its own particular cultural stew, its predilection for bad public policy, and more than its share of bizarre characters, which gives us plenty to write about. When one of us told people up in the leafless North that she intended to return to Texas to help edit the Observer, her journalist colleagues, especially long-time reporters, offered their wholehearted, respectful congratulations. Then they confessed it had been a while since they’d seen a copy of the magazinemaybe she could send them one? Even in Texas, this is the Observer’s predicament: though it is the best little magazine in this state, and widely respected by journalists, there are too few copies in circulation. This is slowly but surely beginning to change. Thanks to the generosity of our readers and supporters, the Observer now actually has the means to keting campaign. Back in 1996, the mantra in this office was “we have money for three more months, and then we’re going to have to shut the doors.” But the doors have remained open, and now we’re looking for ward to the stories we plan to do in three months. We humbly predict that the corning year will be one of the Observer’s best ever. Thanks for sticking by us, and read on. NOTE TO READERS With this issue we welcome back Karen Olsson as our new co-editor. Olsson, who won multiple Association of Alternative Newsweeklies awards as an Observer associate editor, rejoins Our staff after a stint with U.S. News & World Report in Washington, D.C. We are also pleased to announce that we have been nominated for an Utne Reader alternative journalism award and named a finalist for the Dallas Press Club Katie Awards for our work in 2000. The Books & the Culture section is partially funded through grants from the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission, and the Austin Writers’ League, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. DECEMBER 8, 2000 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3