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THE TEXAS OBSERVER VOLUME 101, NO. 15 A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 FOUNDING EDITOR Ronnie Dugger CEO/PUBLISHER Carlton Carl EDITOR Bob Moser MANAGING EDITOR Brad Tyer ASSOCIATE EDITOR Dave Mann INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER Melissa del Bosque STAFF WRITER Forrest Wilder ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Julia Austin CIRCULATION/OFFICE MANAGER Candace Carpenter ART DIRECTOR Daniel Lievens WEBMASTER Shane Pearson POETRY EDITOR Naomi Shihab Nye COPY EDITOR Rusty Todd ADMINISTRATIVE INTERN Mary Hannah Duhon EDITORIAL INTERN Josh Haney CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Nate Blakeslee, Robert Bryce, Emily DePrang, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Patricia Kilday Hart, Steven G. Kellman, Robert Leleux, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Ruth Pennebaker, Kevin Sieff, Andrew Wheat CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jana Birchum, Alan Pogue, Steve Satterwhite CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Maggy Brophy, Michael Krone, Dusan Kwiatkowski, Alex Eben Meyer IN MEMORIAM Molly Ivins, 1944-2007 Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001, Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Frankie Carter Randolph, 1894-1972 entire contents copyrighted 2009, is published biweekly except during January and July when there profit foundation, 307 W. 7th St., Austin TX, 78701. fax -1175, toll free , . Periodicals Postage paid in Austin, TX, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin TX 78701. Subscriptions:l yr $32, 2 yr $59, 3 yr $84. Students $20. Foreign, add $13 to domestic price. Back issues $5. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Rd, 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. Investigative reporting is supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Institute. Coltufat Art. Dividun Books & the Culture is funded in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. DIALOGUE NO BULL Dang, this was one of the best things I’ve read all year \(“How’d You Turn a Billion Steers Into Buildings Made of about the wonderful Paisano tradition and also to get such insight into my home state’s literary history. I grew up in the same town and attended the same school system as writer Mary Specht and, indeed, apart from Hank the Cowdog in elementary school, Texas lit was completely and criminally neglected by the curriculum. I can’t say I’ve made up for that in intervening years, but now that I live in Kansas City, Missouri, and feel nostalgic for Texas practically all the time, this essay has given me a needed push. Thanks, Mary. Thanks, Observer. J. Frank Harper Posted at This speaks to Mary Helen Specht’s comment on my anthology Lone Star Literature as “biased and idiosyncratic and wonderful.” I’ve no idea what she means but just wanted to say that I love it when women talk that way! Don Graham Austin NO PLACE LIKE WHARTON I enjoyed Robert Leleux’s thoughtful article about playwright Horton Foote \(“The Man From Bountiful,” his characterization of Foote’s hometown of Wharton as “a perfectly unexceptional South Texas town.” My grandmother’s family was from Wharton, and I can assure you that it is a very atypical Texas town, a projection of the Old South onto the Texas Gulf Coast. In 186o enslaved AfricanAmericans made up 8o percent of the population of Wharton County, making it as densely black as any county in the Mississippi Delta. The characters that peopled Foote’s plays, and his childhood, were the products of the same anachronistic culture that inspired William Faulkner. Who was kin to whom, how much land they owned, and what their ancestors had done in the Civil War still mattered even when I visited relatives there in the 19505. Shortly after Foote died I received a letter from a cousin of mine there, who was also a cousin of Foote. One sentence read, “Horton Foote has died at 93. His death was due to the fact that he belonged to a cult called Christian Science and refused to seek medical help.” That is pure Wharton, and it is a line worthy of one of Foote’s own plays. Lonn Taylor Fort Davis A correction on the chronology of Horton Foote’s films: Horton’s next movie after Tender Mercies was 1918, directed by me in Waxahachie in 1984. We shot Horton’s On Valentine’s Day the following year at the same time Trip to Bountiful was shot. Ken Harrison Posted at STEERED STRAIGHT Great story \(“Dodging the Ditches how extensive this GM situation is for Arlington. I appreciate this excellent in-depth approach and learning more about the history of the company and the town. Ken Harrison Posted at BETTER BOB THAN DEAD Steve Earle’s Dylan-bashing quote resonate more deeplyor be smarter if Townes were still alive and working. As it is, it’s just a dumb epitaph for a wasted career and a pissed-away life. Meanwhile, Dylan at 67 is back on tour and has just released his 33rd album, Together Through Life. It’s his third album since the 1997 multi-Grammywinning Time Out of Mind, and shows Mr. Bob is still ready to challenge all corners. Van Zandt spent 1997 .. oh yeah, dead. R.T. Castleberry Posted at AUGUST 7, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 3