Friday, August 29, 2014

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas Is Indicted on Charge of Abuse of Power

"The last Texas governor to face criminal charges was James E. “Pa” Ferguson, who was indicted in 1917 by a Travis County grand jury on embezzlement and eight other charges. His case also involved a veto that stirred anger: Mr. Ferguson vetoed the entire appropriation to the University of Texas because it had refused to fire certain faculty members. The state Senate voted to impeach him, but he resigned first."

Read more in the UNT Press book by CAROL O’KEEFE WILSON:

In the Governor’s Shadow: The True Story of Ma and Pa Ferguson

In 1915 Governor James Ferguson began his term in Texas bolstered by a wave of voter enthusiasm and legislative cooperation so great that few Texans anticipated anything short of a successful administration. His campaign was based on two key elements: his appeal to the rural constituency and a temporary hiatus from the effects of the continuous Prohibition debate. In reality, Jim Ferguson had shrewdly sold a well-crafted image of himself to Texas voters, carrying into office a bevy of closely guarded secrets about his personal finances, his business acumen, and his relationship with Texas brewers. Those secrets, once unraveled, ultimately led to charges brought against Governor Ferguson via impeachment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mission Blue Producer Discusses Working with Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

The new documentary Mission Blue -- currently available on Netflix -- charts the life of oceanographer Sylvia Earle. Earle edits books in the Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota series, sponsored by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and published by Texas A&M University Press.

The books, written by top researchers in Gulf of Mexico studies, evaluate topics such as biodiversity, economic factors, geology, and more.

The TED blog recently sat down with Mission Blue producer Fisher Stevens, who said he set out to make a film about the Explorer in Residence's work and ended up becoming fascinated by her.

Read his interview here.

Find more on the Gulf of Mexico books and others in the Harte series here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Press Supporter, Author Contributes World War I Book Series to Cemetery at Foot of Belleau Wood Battle Site

Texas A&M University Press supporter and author Fran Vick recently contributed books in the C. A. Brannen Series on World War I -- named for her father -- to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France.

The 42.5-acre cemetery sits at the foot of Belleau Wood, site of the key World War I battle that occurred during the German 1918 Spring Offensive. The Aisne-Marne American Cemetery houses the graves of 2,289 war dead, most of whom fought in the vicinity and in the Marne Valley that year.

The C. A. Brannen Series books, will add to an already significant collection of World War I books and materials used for research and general interest at the cemetery site.

Vick and her brother, Joseph Patrick Brannen, established the book series with Texas A&M Press in honor of her father, an A&M graduate who fought in the war. His book Over There: A Marine in the Great War, headlines the series.

Study of 13,000-Year-Old Clovis People Still Important in Light of Evidence that Colonization of Americas Predates Era, Texas A&M Researcher Asserts

New research and the discovery of multiple archaeological sites predating people previously thought by experts to be the first Americans provide evidence that the Americas were first colonized at least 14,000 years ago.

In its September/October issue, Archaeology Magazine queries archaeologists on where research has led to date.

Over the past 15 years, the consensus in the archaeology field, according to the magazine, has gradually moved beyond the idea that Clovis -- hunter-gatherers who crossed from Siberia to Alaska and populated the Americas 13,000 years ago -- "came first."

Nonetheless, Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University, told Archaeology Magazine that Clovis is still important.

Texas A&M University Press, 2014
"But, we have to realize that there were people here before. Now we have to determine how long before Clovis people were here, who they were, what kind of technology they carried, and how they migrated through the continent and settled the empty landscapes."

The Center for the Study of the First Americans continues to analyze Clovis and other findings through its Peopling of the Americas Publications, published by Texas A&M University Press.

In the new volume Clovis: On the Edge of a New Understanding, edited by Ashley M. Smallwood and Thomas A. Jennings, due out in December, researchers provide their current perspectives of the Clovis archaeological record as they address the question: what is and what is not Clovis?

Continue reading the Archaeology Magazine article to discover how archaeologists are now answering key questions, like who were the earliest Americans, and how and when did they get here?

Texas A&M University Press, 2011

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Who's Up for Some Blues Activism in Dallas?

In mid-July, the Dallas Morning News published an alarming piece about the fading blues scene in the city since several years ago. As difficulty in supporting viable performance venues mounts, the blues appears to be a dying institution in the "Big D." Nourished in Dallas, longtime and up-and-coming musicians travel elsewhere to make a living, and the blues milieu continues to be on the decline. Yet that blues cloud may hold a silver lining involving crowd jostling, open air, and a lineup of artists...

Author of Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound and Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas, Alan Govenar prescribes a free annual blues festival to this sad case of the blues in Dallas. Like the one Chicago puts on annually, the music festival would help to revitalize interest and support in one of the cradles of the blues, a fact that few Dallasonians even realize. As a musical hub of the genre from the turn of the century to the '90s, Dallas seems especially promising for the project given that many veteran blues musicians already reside there.

As the co-creator of the musical Blind Lemon Blues, Govenar pays tribute to the blues institution Blind Lemon Jefferson, the very same subject with which he opens his 2008 book Texas Blues. Firmly situating Dallas as a focal point of the musical tradition with local greats like Jefferson and Aaron "T-Bone" Walker, Govenar colorfully narrates the vibrant story of how the rustic blues sound exploded into a national phenomenon and took on its distinctive Texan flavor. As an oral history of Texas blues with both breadth and depth, the work reads more like a collection of personal anecdotes fully-illustrated with rare photographs of blues artists.

Govenar's 2013 publication Deep Ellum further demystifies the ways in which the eastern periphery of Dallas functioned historically as a breeding ground for the musical talent of Jefferson, Walker, and others with the clash of white and black music forging a hybrid blues style. Adding to the cultural diversity of the city and region, the rise and fall of the neighborhood as a blues hotbed turned entertainment district parallels the plight of the blues scene since its 1990s high point.

Perhaps Dallas really does need a free blues festival comparable to the annual Chicago Blues Festival to turn around a blues scene in dire straits. The battle to keep the blues alive has reached a critical point. With so much at stake, isn't it something worth fighting for?

-L.G. Miranda

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quick! John Staub Houses For Sale! But Why the Hefty Price Tag?

John Staub estate in Shadyside
Earlier this month, the Houston Chronicle published a short article that resembled a real estate listing on some of the most elegant homes of the area (like the one on the right), designed by none other than the late John F. Staub, a residential architect based in Houston for more than 40 years. On the market for several weeks now, these houses boast grand lawn entrances, gallery views of water, and intricate interiors, all yours for just millions of dollars and counting. Though the price tag alone certainly gives these Staub houses an appealing aesthetic, what really made them the cream of the real estate crop? Size? Site location? Attention to detail? 

According to Stephen Fox's The Country Houses of John F. Staub (TAMU Press, 2007), the answer lies in Staub's conscientious effort to mold a sense of elitism in the very architectural design of each house. The understated elaborateness of each home's details and finishes gave them just as much a concrete flavor of sophistication as did the thoughtful consideration given to site location and spatial organization. Constructing a very perceptible awareness of upper class identity in the features and spaces of his houses not only fashioned a feeling of belonging for the emerging American patrician class, but also allowed Staub to function as the authority of taste and style in the greater Houston area. 

So it seems that every single building element within and outside these estates, no matter how subtle, contributes both to their beauty and current market value, even decades after they've been built. All of these architectural attributes possess their own John Staub signature of minimal elegance organically cast to fit the upper class. To own any of these houses would mean to hold on to a piece of the historic past uniquely designed by John F. Staub.

-L. G. Miranda        

Monday, July 21, 2014

Going Native

Native American Seed is a seed propagation farm and seed cleaning and sales business, located a few miles from Junction, Texas. The 262-acre property includes a mile of frontage on the Llano River—the source of irrigation water for the 60 acres devoted to cultivating native plants for seed. In addition to the farm’s riparian habitat, the acreage encompasses bottomland hardwood forest, an alluvial flood plain and uplands. The business is owned and operated by two generations of the Neiman family—Bill and Jan, who founded it near Dallas in 1988 and relocated it to Junction in 1995, and their children Emily and Weston. After finishing college and working briefly elsewhere, Emily and Weston have returned home to work with their parents. The Neimans harvest seeds not only from the plants they cultivate, but also from widely scattered remnants of the prairie, and their business is the foremost seed source for numerous plant species native to the ecosystems of Texas and surrounding states, including those of northern Mexico. 

If you farm or ranch and are restoring native plants to your landscape for wildlife habitat and livestock forage, you’ve probably bought seeds from the Neimans. If you live in the city and cultivate native plants on your property or are involved in native plant projects in parks and other spaces, you’ve probably bought seeds from the Neimans, too. And if you attend conferences of conservation organizations, you’ve probably heard Bill Neiman speak about native plants and his long and varied work with them. 

Click here to see the full post.