Two Texas boys, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, advised mamas everywhere to not let their babies grow up to be cowboys. "Don't let them pick guitars and drive old trucks; make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such. . . . They'll never stay home and they're always alone, even with someone they love." Good advice from these two "outlaw country" singers, particularly when it comes to itinerant cowboys.

Some of my Northwest friends tell me that when they think of Texas they still have a vision of dusty old cowboys, cattle, windmills – all very hardy and very, well, American. The West is held as an icon of the American spirit of adventure and its determination to tame a wild land. What many people forget is that we are and have always been an immigrant nation, and Texas was settled in part by German and Czech peoples.

One warm April night we were all sitting around on the Hurst patio of my brother Malcolm McAmis, sipping wine and exploring the Texas cultural phenomenon that is Billy Bob’s (in Ft. Worth) and the appeal and availability of “white lightning” (in the opinion of liquor aficionados) when the careening discussion turned to the Tommy Lee Jones’ movie, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.