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JANUARY 7 2005 Texas Observer ‘FEATURES CONTRABANDO 4 An excerpt from Contrabando: Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy by Don Henry Ford, Jr. WHAT ROCKY WROUGHT 8 Mandatory minimum, maximum paina review of Life on the Outside: the Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett by Nate Blakeslee DEPARTMENTS DIALOGUE 2 EDITORIAL 3 Gracias a la Vida BOOKS & THE CULTURE PULP FRICTION 10 by Lou Dubose THAT OTHER DUBYA 12 by Gabriela Bocagrande HOW WE GOT TO BE 37TH 14 by Emily Pyle BORGES AND BATES HALL 16 by Peter LaSalle POETRY 21 by Patricia Clark DAMNED BEAUTIFUL 22 by Carrie Fountain UTOPIAN ASPIRATIONS 24 by Karen Olsson HONKY TONKIN’ 26 by Karl Hagstrom Miller THE AGE OF BOB 28 by Dick Holland ILLIBERAL EDUCATION 30 by Megan Giller AFTERWORD 39 A Letter from Bill Moyers Cover Illustration by Mike Krone DIALOGUE THE OBSERVER AT 50 Congratulations on the 50th anniversary, which I read about in the Houston Chronicle. I used to read the Observer when I lived in Austin in the late ’60s. I remember the magazine as constructive, vibrant, and well written. I just looked at the December 3 issue online. It seemed sad, backward-looking, and louche. The liberal message isn’t going to get a respectful hearing in Texas \(or, going by the 2002 and 2004 by wallowing in the 1950s or 1960s or 1970s. I don’t mean to sound gloomy. One simple editorial screen might work wonders. Just screen all editorial submissions for the word string “Ralph Yarborough.” A single match and the writer should be barred from the Observer for one year. Two matches, two years. If the writer invokes Ralph Yarborough’s name three times or more in the same piece, well, it would do no harm to promise publication in the Observer’s 2054 centenary issue. Jim Thompson Palm Valley Fabulous articles! My only suggestion comes in the form of a question and goes to Mr. Hickey \(“Twas Awe Like it not possible to see Texasredneck and liberalas a send up of itselfa first-class hoot! Laugh at it, participate in it knowingly, and still let everyone you meet know you’re laughing at it? It could only get you shot after all. If it didn’t, you’d have had a good time, and it still wouldn’t have changed a thing. Sigh. Allen Rozelle Via e-mail Dave Hickey is at his be,st in his current article in the Observer, always astute with original and terrifically challenging, viewsa voice essential in these surreal times. John Rechy Via e-mail MORAL VALUES Molly really put my thoughts onto paper in this article! \(“Torture, Amerithought of George getting re-elected based on moral values a bad, sad joke. I appreciate her ending the article with a challengeand I will rise to it. I have the addresses of my representatives taped to the door here where my computer sits and will send off letters this next week. Thanks. Mickey Bowman Byron, IL After the bloodless coup in 2000, I wrote representatives, Dubya, Jeb, and everyone I could think of. Besides form letters, I received NOTHING addressing election. At least the folks in the Ukraine had the reproductive organs to holler out loud over their messwe were tuttutted into submission. I HATE this! Our local columnist thinks Dubya is the second coming and anyone who doesn’t toe the line is driving our country to hell and are all crybabies. Do you have any suggestions for us Ignorees who can see with both eyes and use their brains at the same time? If I sound pissed off, I am. Thank you for having the courage to speak out as you do. Mary Erskine Clayton, NY In an outstanding display of oh so notTexas urbanity, Mr. Hickey writes: And to all this greedy, neurotic ‘nameit-and-claim-it’ one can only exhale and murmur “Oh Please!” and then suggest to those who find this preening exceptionalism quaint or amusing, that the Texas habit of declaring the “inauthenticity” of anyplace else is somewhat less quaint and amusing when transferred to Washington, D.C., and brandished about by Neo -continued on page 35 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER .1/7/05