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Michael Barnes

Austin Traffic, Textile Launch, Longhorn Network and more

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Kristen Plymale and Ana Lozano at Textile grand opening.

Kristen Plymale and Ana Lozano at Textile grand opening.

NIGHTLIFE: Like mushrooms after a rain, come the party places. All over downtown, they stand silent most nights. Passersby wonder at their creative presence, often decked out in the latest decor, but what role do these buildings play? Clubs? Eateries? High-tech offices? Nope. In fact, some two dozen mostly older buildings in Central Austin are party places, known in the biz as special events spaces. Yes, they are available for your office happy hour, your wedding or your charity benefit. But they really come alive during Austin’s mega-festivals, especially SXSW. A handsome newcomer, Textile, made its official bow last week. Jason Hicks and Dana Beyert from the Electric Company (Austin Music Hall) are the clever captains of this venture. There’s an inside-outside aspect to Textile that is particularly inviting. And it is right across the street from the Austin Convention center on East Third Street.

CITY: Story about how Austin traffic affects socializing stirs up some traffic online. Taken from my column in the Statesman: “A gilt-edged card slides out of a hand-addressed envelope. You have been invited to the social event of the season. Then your heart drops: “Event starts promptly at 6 p.m.” Not in Austin, it doesn’t. Not unless you live walking distance from the venue. Luckily for your social columnist, he can exercise that option often. Otherwise, one faces a heroic battle against almost insuperable traffic. For some party guests, this fight can turn into a lengthy campaign. A host and a guest can reside as far as 75 miles apart and still claim to live in the Austin area. Has our worsening traffic permanently altered Austin’s social habits?”  http://shar.es/13hgax

SPORTS: A great year to be a Longhorns fan. Sure, the transitioning football team wound up the regular season 6-6 and will be challenged by an old rival in the Texas Bowl. At the same time, however, the basketball teams are ranked Nos. 3 and 8. The volleyball team is seeded No. 2 in the NCAA playoffs. The swimming and diving teams are ranked Nos. 4 and 7. And we can see it all from the comfort of our overstuffed sofa, all thanks to the Longhorn Network. I have no idea how such a national cable network — a collaboration between the University of Texas and ESPN — works out a business model. But I can see why other teams — you know who you are — whined about it. If your teams are doing well, having all-by-your-lonesome network helps explain why there are pockets of UT fans from Alaska to Maine and beyond. One night recently, I returned home from my nightly duties to watch a basketball game, a volleyball game and the swimming invitational. Bliss.