ARTS: Uniting through beauty. No Austin party devotes so much attention to beauty. The Ballet Austin Fête immerses guests in it. At the lustrous W Austin Hotel, the two-tiered benefit opened up to a room full of rose petals inventively refashioned into thematic table settings by the Avila family of Mandarin Flower Co. The halls were filled with lovely tunes sung with consummate skill by Liz Morphis. The W staff expertly stage-managed the excellent dinner, then made sure the guests for the lower-priced Fêtish late party were treated with equal care. And yet, still, what do we remember? Heartfelt, thoughtful conversations with folks such as fitness trainer Maria Groten and Llano-based Lynda Gammage, widow of the late U.S. Rep. Bob Gammage. In the end, as Groten said, it’s about bringing people together.
STYLE: An Austinite’s tributes to Queen Elizabeth II. Taken from my story in the Statesman: “In 1947, Princess Elizabeth visited South Africa at the invitation of Prime Minister Jan Smuts. For this carefree postwar outing, she was joined by her sister, Princess Margaret, along with their father, King George VI, and their mother, known then as Queen Elizabeth (later beloved as the “Queen Mum”). Austin architect Hillel Daniller, now 88, was a student at the time. He welcomed the young Elizabeth — future reigning queen — to the University of Cape Town campus, dramatically perched on the slopes of Devil’s Peak. “When she turned 80, I reminded her that I had welcomed her to the university,” the punctilious Daniller says in a crisp South African accent. “A lovely letter came back from a lady in waiting, because, of course, the queen does not do her own letter writing.”
CHARITY: Capital Area Food Bank seeks to expand. Taken from Marty Toohey’ story in the Statesman: “Last year, the Capital Area Food Bank distributed the equivalent of a Boeing 737’s weight in food every day. Not the equivalent of the cargo on a 737 — the plane itself. It wasn’t enough, according to the Food Bank. The organization’s leaders on Friday are kicking off a 10-month campaign to raise $10 million for a new storage facility. The problem isn’t donors’ willingness to give food or even necessarily to get it distributed among the 300-plus organizations across Central Texas that get the food to residents’ tables, Food Bank leaders say. The problem is simply storage space, especially for fresh fruits, vegetables and meats that need to be refrigerated or frozen.” http://shar.es/1a7vXd
BOOKS: Bill Wittliff draws on his ancestors’ stories for novel. Taken from Jane Sumner‘s story in the Statesman: “It’s mythic. It’s historic. It’s folk wisdom and wit. Best of all, it’s a master storyteller at the top of his game practicing the ancient art he heard as a kid growing up in Edna in the 1940s. In his magical first novel, “The Devil’s Backbone,” screenwriter-producer Bill Wittliff, who took us up the trail with Gus and Call in his beloved teleplay for “Lonesome Dove,” takes us on a different kind of journey. This time it’s a quest that the young hero named Papa undertakes through the rough Hill Country of Texas, circa 1880, when bears still raided corn cribs and panthers still screamed in the night. For Wittliff, whose forebears were among the Old Three Hundred settlers who received land grants in Stephen F. Austin’s first colony, all life is an adventure. And so is the act of writing — in this case, a wild, rudimentary, intuitive one.” http://shar.es/1a77ph
POLITICS: Rick Perry’s appoints people who are like him and give him lots of money. Taken from Christian McDonald and Asher Price‘s story in the Statesman: “When Gov. Rick Perry leaves office in January after 14 years in power, one of his legacies will be a roster of state government overseers that harks back to a Texas of decades past. Of the thousands of people he has appointed to boards and commissions — one of the few powers granted governors by the Texas Constitution — the overwhelmingly majority are white, even as the state has become much more diverse. Two-thirds are men. The governor has appointed reliably like-minded people — donors to his campaigns, one-time staffers in his office, former lobbyists — to dozens of boards, commissions and judgeships. The picks have largely reflected Perry’s distaste for regulation, including those appointees overseeing state regulators; suspicion of Washington interference; and appetite for pleasing business interests.” http://shar.es/1a7vN5