More than just a shopping mall and a jail

Texas is the death penalty capital of the United States, and even the world, an accomplishment of which Governor Rick Perry and ex-governor George W. Bush are sickeningly proud. Death Row is in Livingston, about an hour outside Houston. So it is not a surprise that my mitigation work has taken me there with some frequency. For the longest time I thought of it as a place to get work done, nothing more. My main cultural reference was the Galleria, a mall where wealthy Mexicans go to shop.

But then on one trip a couple of years ago I took the trouble of staying an extra day or two. If you find yourself passing through, go to the Menil Collection. And the Mark Rothko Chapel. And any branch of the Half Price Books chain. You can get one of the best hamburgers you've ever had -- and I don't care how many you've had -- at the Burger Palace. And do not miss the dim sum at Fung's, the entryway to which is pictured above.

Sadly, I didn't have time for everything. One has to save something for the next trip.