Zach Unplugged, Richard Moya, Lois Kim and Austin’s Ward System

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Mindy Ellmer and Cindy Greenwood at Zach Unplugged.
Mindy Ellmer and Cindy Greenwood at Zach Unplugged.

Mindy Ellmer and Cindy Greenwood at Zach Unplugged.

ARTS: Traditional analysts of the arts often distinguish between the classical and Romantic urges. In classicism, one often encounters astonishing hesitations — a silence, a blank space, a pose held midair. In (big-R) Romanticism, one finds astonishing excesses — a soaring note, an embellished image, a wild leap. Controlled excess, to be sure, but excess nonetheless. Zach Theatre’s Dave Steakley is a Romantic artist. More than a dozen of his singers entertained for Zach Unplugged, the group’s tented, informal “un-gala,” chaired by Maria Groten and State Rep. Jim Pitts. Almost all of them, singing gospel, rock or jazzy show tunes, generated gasps of astonishment when talent and emotion coincided in a rush of splendid excess. (To single out any of the singers would be to disrespect the others.) I shared these rare moments — and a far-reaching dinner conversation — with table mate Tom Mays, who showed a wide range of expertise and a cultivated taste for Zach’s artistry.

POLITICS: Trailblazer Richard Moya reflects on life inside and outside office. Taken from my story in the Statesman: “The long Economy Furniture Company strike played a pivotal role in the 1970 election of Richard Moya, the first Hispanic Travis County commissioner. “The strikers walked the picket line, then came back to help my campaign,” Moya, now 82, recalls. “A week before the election, John Treviño got six kids to run my campaign for nothing. But we really needed $1,200 for radio ads. I’d already borrowed money from my dad, so I talked to the strikers. They got $21 a week on the picket line. When they got paid, they gave me their checks.” One way Moya hoped to repay them was to pave the way for labor organizer Cesar Chavez to speak at a strike rally. Among his first acts as county commissioner was to introduce a resolution designating the date of the rally “Cesar Chavez Day.”” http://shar.es/1mOzFW

BOOKS: Lois Kim ties it all together at the Texas Book Festival. Taken from my story in the Statesman: “Lois Kim describes herself a “recovering academic.” The director of the Texas Book Festival, which returns to the Capitol area this weekend, did time in graduate school. She emerged with a doctorate in English. Yet Kim decided to skip the traditional job search, which might have landed her at some isolated college, teaching goodness knows what as a first-time professor. “I wanted to be out in the world more and make things happen in a bigger way,” Kim, now 46, says. “But I was highly unemployable at that point.” So she worked for 10 years helping to run the continuing education program at the University of Texas Extension, while raising two children with architect Phillip Reed and expanding her management portfolio. In 2012, the Book Festival needed a new director.” http://shar.es/1mOzJ2

HISTORY: Not Austin’s first swing at single-member districts. Taken from my story in the Statesman: “On Jan. 13, 1840, Austin held its first election for mayor. The city’s population was 553. Edwin Waller, whom Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar had appointed to build the fledgling city, took the mayor’s spot. Later that year, when Waller’s short term ended, Thomas William “Peg Leg” Ward was elected mayor. Alongside Ward, eight aldermen — in essence, city council members — were chosen from eight districts called “wards.” n other words, the municipal vote on Nov. 4 will not be Austin’s first swing at single-member districts. In fact, by the 1870s, two more wards had been added, giving the city a 10-1 system not unlike the incipient one.” http://shar.es/1mOiWn


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