“Texas Culture Wars Take a Madcap Turn” – Texas Observer


Ginger Russell at a CSCOPE press conference

The strange story of how an obscure classroom teachers’ tool became cause for a Tea Party freak-out that took over Texas politics.

Here are a few of the other things it’s been called lately: “The online Texas public school curriculum with a name that sounds like an unpleasant hospital exam,” “a massive indoctrinational problem” “straight out of a Marxist handbook,” an “egregious transgression of our most basic Constitutional rights,” a “dismantling of our precious republic” and “absolute garbage.”

Texas Observer, August 16, 2013


Mosaic of images from clipsPrivate Trauma” – Texas Observer, March 2008
Preston Wheeler went to Iraq to make a fortune, but came home a wounded man.

Dandy Rotten Scoundrel” – Dallas Observer and SF Weekly, April 2010
Michael Manos built a new life of glitzy lies and peddled it across the country, until the truth caught up to him in Dallas.

Ladies First” – Grantland, July 2011
Sonya Thomas and the women’s movement in competitive eating

Red River Justice” – Texas Observer, July 2012
In an East Texas county known for corrupt law enforcement, Mark Lesher fought the justice system—until it came for him too.

Too Heavy To Bear” – Texas Observer, December 2012
How the armored car industry leaves workers unprotected

“Kenny Chesney’s Good-Time Cult of Authenticity” – Pacific Standard

Kenny Chesney at Cowboys Stadium

I visit Cowboys Stadium, where the nation’s top-selling touring act was busy promoting a new line of rum.

Blue Chair Bay Rum, the next great tentacle of Chesney’s growing empire, is named for his peaceful “Song From an Old Blue Chair.” It’s on the 2002 album No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems that began Chesney’s journey from Nashville to the islands, a transition from a typical country crooner to a self-styled Second Coming of Jimmy Buffett. In such a transformation, he often sings, there is promise for all of us, a new life beyond the troubled world we know. He was once like us, a small person raised on small-town worries—but now look. He can take us there if we’re willing to go.

Pacific Standard, June 26, 2013

“Testing the Limits” – Texas Observer

Testing the Limits


testing-the-limits-observer-cover_Page_01A Texas mother’s radical revolt against standardized tests

The reasoning behind opting out is simple: If politicians and school officials want data on student performance, they need students to provide it. The way Chamness sees it, teachers, students and parents have been shut out while politicians and test companies dictate what happens in schools. By opting out of testing, she figures she’s elbowing her way back into the conversation.

Texas Observer, March 2013