Texas history museum names new director you might know

You might already know the newly appointed director of the Bullock Texas State History Museum. That’s because hyper-competent Margaret Koch has already twice served as the museum’s interim director as well as its director of exhibits and deputy director.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum names Margaret Koch as director. Contributed

Koch previously served as director of exhibitions and research as well as exhibition designer at the Missouri History Museum. In Austin since 2013, she has supervised award-winning shows and has widened the museum’s focus to include previously underreported histories.

She has also overseen improvements and renovations, including conversion of the museum’s IMAX theater projection to an advanced laser format, and a multi-million-dollar rethinking of the first floor gallery, to reopen in November as “Becoming Texas.”

RELATED: Museum urges visitors to rodeo across Texas.

The Bullock will become even more relevant as the corridor north of the Capitol is reshaped and a new cultural space — with a still-undetermined focus — opens in a state office tower across the street from the Bullock and the Blanton Museum of Art.

RELATED: Life and death on the Texas-Mexico border 100 years ago.

“Margaret is an experienced and trusted leader,” said Rod Welsh, executive director of the State Preservation Board, the agency that oversees the museum as well as the State Capitol building and grounds, including its statuary, and the Capitol Visitors Center. She “will keep the Bullock at the forefront of best contemporary museum practices as the institution continues to produce new and exciting programs.”

The height of camp, ‘Valley of the Dolls,’ returns to Austin

Just 21 years ago, we wrote the following ode to one of our favorite movies, “Valley of the Dolls, when it appeared at the Paramount Theatre. Ten or so years later, we added commentary when a special showing for Stephen Moser played the original Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on Colorado Street.

On June 21, “V.O.D.” returns again, this time for a LGBTQ benefit at the Austin Film Society Cinema in the Linc. Don’t miss the 6 p.m. cocktail party or the 7:30 p.m. screening. You want a stiff drink before you see it. Benefits the Kind ClinicTickets here.


Rereading the 1997 article, it’s especially interesting to see what people thought were camp in 1967, when the show-biz movie came out, and what was considered camp in 1997 (see below). Do not fail to take the quiz at the end.

This ran in the American-Statesman in 1997:

Oscar Wilde. Joan Crawford. “The Wizard of Oz.”

Camp, that stylized, comic view of culture inspired by capricious fashion, nevertheless has fostered some indestructible icons. The range of campy relics runs from great art, such as Wilde’s comedies of language and manners, to great kitsch, like the Las Vegas groaner ``Showgirls.”

In 1967, the famously bad movie “Valley of the Dolls,” based on Jacqueline Susann‘s torrid best seller, earned instant camp status.

It has not gone away.

Thirty years later, k.d. lang has recorded the theme to “Valley of the Dolls,” the Los Angeles County Museum is showing “V.O.D.” as a cultural artifact and The New York Times reports surging interest in Susann, including parties and pageants devoted to the trash author.

Susann’s backstage saga about four women whose “appetite for life was greater than their capacity for living” was extravagant, artificial, mannered — elements related to the difficult-to-define camp sensibility.

“Camp taste turns its back on the good-bad axis of ordinary aesthetic judgment,” wrote Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay, “Notes on Camp.” “It doesn’t argue that the good is bad, or the bad is good. In clothing and interior decor, camp is when you are pushing the sensibility to the absurd.”

Not all camp revives outdated fashions, as in the current trend of adapting old corporate logos and advertising. The movie and book of “Valley of the Dolls,” for instance, joined the ready-made camp parade of the ’60s that included the TV series “Batman,” singer Nancy Sinatra and the fashions of Carnaby Street. (“Batman” was campy in a premeditated way; the other two were transformed in a flash.)

The movie of “V.O.D’ coyly depicts abuse of sex and drugs in show business. It was massacred by the critics and destroyed several acting careers, but it also spawned thousands of midnight showings for lovers of celluloid trash.

The film’s producers did not intend it that way.

Classy Andre Previn and his then-wife, Dory, composed the songs for “Valley of the Dolls,” John Williams scored them and pop singer Dionne Warwick — now experiencing a mini revival because of “My Best Friend’s Wedding” — recorded the omnipresent theme song. Serious, if in this case melodramatic actors, Patty Duke and Susan Hayward played key “V.O.D.” characters based on the trials and temperaments of Judy Garland and Ethel Merman.

Meant for greatness, it became pure camp, as Sontag defined it. “The pure examples of camp are unintentional; they are dead-serious,” she wrote.

Lovers of the movie have fanned the flame for years.

“For all those millions who thought they might go into show business, `V.O.D’ was the inside track on what it was really like,” said Austin Musical Theatre director Scott Thompson, who plans to see the movieat the Paramount. “As campy as it is, some of it rings true. Really nasty bitches who will throw you out of the show if you are too good. Major stars get through performances on whatever substances are available at the moment.”

Just as lines from the later pure-camp movie “Showgirls” have entered the popular vocabulary, sentences from “Valley of the Dolls” are mimicked for emphasis at theatrical parties:

“You’ve got to climb Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls.” (Delivered with mock calm.)

“So you come crawling back to Broadway … well Broadway doesn’t go for booze and pills.” (Mouth twisted into a Brooklyn accent.)

“Neeeelyyyy O’haaaaraaaa!!!!” (Screamed at top volume.)

Why would people quote regularly from a bad movie?

Perhaps because camp expressions add color to the ordinary, Sontag suggested. Campiness answers a cultural need to simulate and critique mainstream culture, simultaneously.

As Sontag put it, “(Camp) is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater.”

CAMP ’67 vs. CAMP ’97

1.Tiffany lamps vs. vinyl lamps from the ’70s

  1. “Batman” (TV series) vs. “AbFab”
  2. Novels of Ronald Firbank vs. Novels of Jackie Collins
  3. Hollywood art deco diners vs. Kon Tiki interiors
  4. Aubrey Beardsley drawings vs. Pat Nagel prints
  5. “Swan Lake”vs. “Riverdance”
  6. Bellini’s operas vs. sitcom spin-offs like “Phyllis”
  7. women’s clothing from the ’20s vs. women’s clothing from the ’70s
  8. Nancy Sinatra vs. RuPaul (but few other drag queens)
  9. old Flash Gordon comics vs. people dressed as corporate mascots
  10. “Queen for a Day” vs. “Talk Soup”
  11. hot Dr Pepper with lemon vs. Tab or Fresca
  12. “To Sir With Love” vs. “Grease” (the movie)
  13. “VALLEY OF THE DOLLS’ vs. “VALLEY OF THE DOLLS”

Valley of the Dolls Trivia Quiz

“You’ve got to climb _____ to reach the Valley of the Dolls”

a) every mountain

b) Sharon Tate

c) Mount Everest

What does Neely (Patty Duke) take to survive the training/rehearsal montage?

a) the A train

b) hot Dr Pepper with lemon

c) lots of “dolls,” i.e., amphetamines and barbiturates

Whose career was not ruined by — or soon after — the making of “V.O.D.?”

a) Patty Duke (OK, so 20 years later, she rebounded)

b) Sharon Tate (Manson’s gang murdered the beauty)

c) Barbara Parkins (frankly, she never had a career)

Which future Academy Award winner appears in a “V.O.D” bit part?

a) Ben Kingsley as the pool cleaner

b) George C. Scott as a drug pusher in drag

c) Richard Dreyfuss as a stagehand at Neely’s disastrous “comeback”

This is onstage while Helen (Susan Hayward) sings “I’ll Plant My Own Tree.”

a) a stately oak

b) a throbbing acorn

c) a giant, plastic mobile that defies the laws of physics

Demure Ann, played by Barbara Parkins, becomes _____.

a) “the It Girl”

b) “That Girl”

c) “the Gillian Girl,” patterned after “the Breck Girl”

Where do we hear a maudlin performance of “Come Live With Me,” one of several camp classics composed by Dory and Andre Previn for this film?

a) a women’s restroom, crooned to Helen’s flushed wig

b) on the beach, with surf rushing through Ann’s hair

c) a sanitarium that serves both a mortally ill singer and Neely in rehab

What does Jennifer (Sharon Tate) do to please her mother?

a)  bust exercises

b) send homethe profits from her French “art” films

c) both a and b

What sound effect is heard when Neely, in a climactic alley scene, screeches “Neeeelyyyy O’haaaaraaaa!!!!”?

a) Munchkins giggling

b) the sound of two hands clapping

c) church bells

What do critics call the “V.O.D.” for the ’90s?

a) “Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls” (1981 television movie)

b) any USA Channel made-for-cable movie

c) “Showgirls” (“I’m a dancer!”)

(The answer to all the above questions is “C.”)

 

 

 

Austin Under 40 Awards winners are solid gold

We always cheer the Austin Under 40 Awards ceremony, not just because it benefits two worthy causes, YWA Foundation and the Austin Sunshine Camps, but also because so many rising social stars end up among the winners.

Toya Bell picks up the Austin Under 40 Award for Mentor of the Year. Contributed by Lauryn Vaughan of Not Purple Creative

Don’t worry about the future; these leaders will be in charge.

Saturday’s party at the JW Marriott grossed $280,000. The net amount for the charities has not yet been announced.

BENEFITS: Austin’s Sunshine Camps shine.

2018 AUSTIN UNDER 40 AWARD WINNERS

Civics, Government and Public Affairs: Virginia A. Cumberbatch

Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations: Kristie Gonzales

Medicine and Healthcare: David Shackelford

Nonprofit Service: Kandace Vallejo

Youth & Education: Ashley Alaniz-Moyer

Financial and Insurance: Lindsey Leaverton

Innovation and Startup: Stephanie Hansen

Real Estate: Emily Chenevert

Legal: Sujata Ajmera

Technology: Tricia Katz

Architecture, Engineering and Construction: Ada Corral

Arts and Entertainment: David Messier

Culinary Arts, Events and Hospitality: C.K. Chin

Energy, Mobility and Transportation: Kelly Daniel

Sports, Wellness and Fitness: Marc Tucci

Mentor of the Year: Toya Bell

Austinite of the Year: Sujata Ajmera

Flipside Austin parties before, during and after SXSW

SXSW muscles its way onto Austin’s social calendar in a couple of weeks, but you can wrestle down plenty of other options for parties before, during and after the main event.

Feb. 22: Junior League of Austin presents Austin Entertains. Fair Market.

Feb. 23: Wonders and Worries Unmasked. JW Marriott.

Feb. 28: Austin Music Awards. ACL Live.

March 1: Back on My Feet Austin Gala. JW Marriott.

March 2: Flashback for Explore Austin. The Parish.

March 3: 10th Anniversary Celebration with the Avett Brothers plus Asleep at the Wheel. Long Center.

March 7: League of Women Voters Austin State of the City Dinner. Doubletree by Hilton.

March 8: Texas Film Awards for Austin Film Society. AFS Cinema.

March 9-18: South by Southwest Festival. Various venues.

March 18: Nine Core Values Awards Luncheon for First Tee of Greater Austin. Hyatt Regency.

March 20: Nature Conservancy of Texas Austin Luncheon. JW Marriott.

March 24: Austin’s Fab Five Event for Seedling Foundation. Westin Domain.

When Austin meant a golden future for movie star Dennis Quaid

Recently, we reported that movie star Dennis Quaid had put his Marina Club house up for sale. The Houston-raised actor is spending less and less time here in Austin. That compelled us to reach back into the archives to a brighter 2005, when Quaid and his then-new bride Kimberly Buffington sat down with this reporter at Hoover’s Cooking to talk about their golden lives here. It saddens an unreconstructed romantic to look back on sunnier times for the former couple, but it’s important to remember who they were to our city.
Contributed
So here we go …

Dennis Quaid blazes into a room — and it’s not just because the sun follows him inside Hoover’s Cooking on Manor Road, basting his outdoorsman’s features and fueling his barely contained energy.Quaid also flushes royally with affection for his still-new wife, Kimberly Buffington, and for his still-new home, Austin.

“I’ve always loved Austin, ” Quaid says. “It has a sense of community you can’t get anywhere else.”

One minute, he’s signing a DVD for a young, delighted diner; next minute he’s doodling on the table’s paper covering. From time to time, he bursts with memories about his Texas childhood, but, like a compass returning to true north, his gaze returns to Buffington, the picture of blissful repose at his side.

If Quaid pitches his stories like a fastball, Buffington pauses before she speaks, averting her eyes before stating the facts plainly, but also playfully. He might be the actor, but she knows how to control time and attention, and is especially at ease on her lifelong turf — Austin.

If Quaid burns like the sun, Buffington shines like the moon — cool, pale, reflective.

Beyond ecstatic — and perhaps questionable — metaphors from reporters, the couple have announced their Austin presence in a big way. It can be heard from the house and land they’ve purchased on Lake Austin. It echoes in the events, such as the Texas Film Hall of Fame, that they are careful to attend, despite Quaid‘s heavy shooting schedule (he starred in four films last year).

And, of course, it makes the loudest sound at the Dennis Quaid Charity Weekend, which, during the next few days, combines celebrity and amateur golf tournaments, a fashion show, a gala dinner and an appearance at La Zona Rosa by Quaid‘s band, the Sharks.

So why Austin for this couple who could live anywhere?

Quaid, 51, asserts no longtime ties to the University of Texas, unlike fellow movie star Matthew McConaughey (Quaid attended the University of Houston for three years). Yet he can claim a deeper Austin connection than Sandra Bullock. Growing up the son of an electrician in Houston, he often visited Austin, skipping school to go camping or to attend parties.

“It had hills, ” he says. “Houston is so flat.”

Quaid‘s Austin ardor also connects back with Buffington, 33, who was born at Seton Hospital, grew up in Northwest Hills and West Lake Hills, and attended Hyde Park Baptist School. Her father was a builder involved in real estate, her mother a homemaker.

“It’s a great place to be from, ” Buffington says. “There’s always something going on. I was into all kinds of sports, but also made good grades. My brother (now a real estate attorney) made slightly better grades. I was always social and knew a ton of people in town.”

The story of their meeting has been told before, sweetly by Quaid on “The Daily Show, ” and by both of them elsewhere.

They tell the tale again on this afternoon at Hoover’s.

It was a Tuesday night — May 13, 2003. Quaid was in town filming “The Alamo” and met John Moore, the director of “The Flight of the Phoenix, ” at Truluck’s in the Warehouse district. Buffington had attended a party for the Junior League. They both ended up at Sullivan’s, where they were introduced by Brett Cullen, an actor and former University of Houston student.

“It was love at first sight, ” Quaid says. “Was it for you, too?” he asks a smiling Buffington.

“It’s love at first sight for everyone with Dennis, ” she says (a phrase she has used, effectively, in other interviews). “And we hit it off right away.”

After a few dates, they retired to Quaid‘s Montana ranch, just north of Yellowstone National Park. (“Yellowstone is my backyard, ” Quaid says.)

“I figured if I got her to Montana, I had her, ” Quaid says. “Not much place to run.”

The interview is interrupted by a discreet Hoover’s waiter. Quaid searches for his glasses to examine the menu.

“One of Kimberly’s duties is to read for me, ” he says with a touch of Jack Nicholson self-mockery that periodically creeps into his performances.

The pause — and Quaid‘s gentle treatment of the autograph-seeking boy — allows time for closer visual observation.

Their faces contrast strikingly. Buffington is all smoothness, her perfectly arranged blonde tresses framing a narrow face and gemlike eyes. Quaid, famously, has acquired creases that complement his still-roundish, still-boyish features. His smile, which eats up his face, has not lost any of its firepower.

On her finger sizzles the 3 1/2-carat canary diamond that Quaid selected from the Kimberly Mines while on location for “The Flight of the Phoenix” in Africa. It was later arranged by Austin’s Anthony Nak.

With orders of comfort food made, it’s back to the story.

“Well, she came up to Montana, but for three or four months, it was a long-distance thing, ” Quaid says. “That wasn’t good.”

What cemented their relationship was the monthslong “Phoenix” shoot in Africa.

“I asked Kimberly to come along and protect me from all the wild animals, ” Quaid jokes.

So the couple spent a few months together on a Namibia beach. They went on safari. They bonded over spectacular scenery and splendid isolation.

“Everything was perfect. If it hadn’t been for Africa, it would have been so much more difficult, ” Buffington says. “It showed us we were able to make the next move.”

That meant sharing a home in Los Angeles, where Buffington continues to work in the real estate industry (she had worked for a title company in Austin).

“There are some neat properties, ” she says. “And I find out about them first!”

After a surprise proposal in front of their L.A. home, the duo wed in June 2004 on top a hill at the Montana ranch, surrounded by just a few friends and family. And then settled into married life.

“We play house, ” Buffington says. “We don’t go to the Hollywood parties.”

Luckily, she also clicks with Jack, Quaid‘s 13-year-old son with ex-wife Meg Ryan.

“He’s an angel, ” she says.

But L.A. is not enough. For the future, Buffington found land they both can love on Lake Austin.

“You drive down through woods, then it opens up, ” Quaid says. “It’s a fantastic lot, and very close to town at the same time.”

They plan some big changes on the Lake Austin property. But when will they install themselves permanently on a lakeside porch?

“When Jack graduates from high school, ” Quaid says. “I’m trying to talk him into going to UT.”

They return to Austin every few months for holidays (last Thanksgiving), summer tubing, charity events, etc.

Sounds like paradise. Meanwhile, they devote their time to raising money for children’s causes through the Charity Weekend. Quaid launched the Weekend in 2002 after filming ‘The Rookie’ here.

What about that inevitable question for all newlyweds?

“Yeah, I want more kids, ” Quaid says.

“The sooner the better, ” Buffington says. “Before we get too old. Once we have kids, we are never going to be this wild and free again.”

 

Austin shouts to home seller: ‘Dennis Quaid, come back!’

Like the tow-headed kid, Little Joe, at the end of the 1953 Western, “Shane,” we’re shouting: “Dennis Quaid, come back!”

Quaid, who starred in a quizillion movies, once called Austin his primary home. He even married a hometown beauty, Kimberly Buffington, and took a mansion here to anchor their Austin life. They sponsored high-profile charity events — serenaded by Quaid’s side band — and the handsome couple could be reliably seen out and about. (His band played the Continental Club as recently as January.)

Actor Dennis Quaid stops to pose for a photo with a fan at the premier of ‘At Any Price’ at the Paramount Theater. Alberto Mart’nez/American-Statesman

Less like Matthew McConaughey and more like Sandra Bullock, Quaid is no longer much of an Austinite and so he is selling his Marina Club house next to the Austin Country Club with a view of the spectacular Pennybacker Bridge. 

A view from the Dennis Quaid home for sale at the Marina Club. Contributed

This is not the mansion purchased with Buffington that led to a legal tussle. After more than 10 years with her, Quaid is single again and says he spends a lot more time in Los Angeles than in Austin. So it’s time to unload his near-5,000-foot detached home that is part of a 36-condo development.

According to the Austin Business Journal, Quaid’s younger brother Buddy Quaid and Eric Copper, both with Austin Portfolio Real Estate, the luxury division of Keller Williams Realty, have the co-listing. The price is $3.5 million.

His brother, Buddy, and their aging mother live here. The Quaids, including actor brother Randy Quaid, grew up in Houston.

Quirky note: I spent two years in drama school with Dennis. By 1972, he was already a budding star, a magnetic presence on the stage in shows such as “Bus Stop,” “Mother Courage,” “Company” and more.

Recently, we republished a profile that we did on the Quaid ex-couple when they started to settle here.

Dates set for big Mack, Jack and McConaughey benefit

The Austin triumvirate of Matthew McConaugheyMack Brown and Jack Ingram has already raised $7.5 million for youth charities through their Mack, Jack & McConaughey golf-plus-music-plus-dinner-plus-fashion-plus-auction-plus-good-will weekends.

Mack Brown, Jack Ingram and Matthew McConaughey at 2017 MJM. Suzanne Cordeiro/American-Statesman

Now the Academy Award-winning actor, the ESPN analyst and former Longhorns coach and the ACM Award-winning recording artist have set the date for their sixth annual fundraiser that culminates at ACL Live: April 12-13, 2018.

SEE PHOTOS: Mack, Jack and McConaughey gala with Miranda Lambert.

No headliner named yet, but past musical partners have included Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves, Toby Keith, Sheryl Crow and John Mellencamp. Additionally, Camila Alves will bring back your signature fashion show that weekend; past spotlighted designers have included Jason Wu, Veronica Beard, Badgley Mischka, Lela Rose, and Milly.

HISTORY: 17 parties that altered Austin.

This mega-event benefits groups such as CureDuchenne, Dell Children’s Medical Center, HeartGift, just keep livin Foundation and The Rise School of Austin.

Best parties for this rapturous Austin weather

What could go better with this glorious late October weather than unfettered socializing with fellow Austinites?

Oct. 26-Nov. 3: Austin Film Festival. Various locations.

Oct. 26: Fall Fundraiser for Pease Park Conservancy. Ella Hotel.

Oct. 26: Future Luncheon for Austin Ed Fund. Fairmont Hotel.

Oct. 26: Amazon in Austin for Rainforest Partnership. 800 Congress Ave.

Oct. 27: Tito’s Prize Winner Zack Ingram show reception. Big Medium Gallery.

Oct. 27: Women of Distinction Awards Luncheon for TAMACC. Four Seasons Hotel.

Oct. 28: Spooktacular. Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Oct. 28: Bulltober Fest. Rodeo Austin HQ, 9100 Decker Lake Road.

Oct. 28: Viva La Vida for Day of the Dead. Mexic-Arte Museum.

Oct. 28: Eye Ball for Rude Mechs. Springdale Station.

Oct. 28: Austin Central Library Grand Opening. 710 West Cesar Chavez St.

Oct. 28: Zach Costume Bash. Bobbi Pavilion.

Oct. 28: Austin Sunshine Camps Carnival. Zilker Lodge & Pavilion.

Oct. 28: Barbecue on the Pedernales for Friends of the LBJ National Historical Park. LBJ Ranch

Oct. 29: All ATX for HAAM, SIMS, Black Fret and Austin Music Foundation. Auditorium Shores.

Oct. 29: Empty Bowls Project. Dripping Springs Ranch Park and Event Center.

Oct. 30: Andy Roddick Foundation Gala. ACL Live.

 

Best Texas books: Big Bend nature leads off

We pause during Austin festival season to read up on nature in a Texas national park, the career of a Texas script doctor, the third part of an Old West trilogy by a Texan, a urban Chicano tale from another Texan and breezy book on Texas ingenuity.


“Nature Watch Big Bend.” Lynne Weber and Jim Weber. Texas A&M University Press.

Oh, how have we needed this book forever! Weber and Weber give a seasonal guide to the flora and fauna of our beloved Big Bend with copious drawings, maps, photographs and sidebars. The handy book also includes timely warnings about black bears, mountain lions and other potentially dangerous creatures.  With this in hand, we are not required to tote around separate guides for birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, amphibians, cacti, succulents, grasses, trees and wildflowers. And it’s worth noting that the uninformed visitor to the National Park often expects one of these sightings at the wrong time of year. I’ve certainly gone hoping for a vermillion flycatcher or a indigo bunting when none was to be had even in the most likely spots. We’ve engaged with plenty of wildlife in Big Bend over the years, stuff not seen anywhere else in Texas, so guide away! It’s almost cool enough to return.

MORE TO TEXAS TITLES TO READ: Best Texas books to read this time of year.

“Rewrite Man: The Life and Career of Warren Skaaren.” Alison Macor. University of Texas Press.

Our colleague, Joe Gross, already reported on this fine biography, written by one of our favorite local journalists and scholars. It never hurts to add another voice of praise. The late screenwriter Warren Skaaren was one of the definitive influences on the early Texas film scene, as well as a top Hollywood script doctor who worked on some of the biggest movies of his time, from “Top Gun” to “Batman.” Alison Macor, whose “Chainsaws, Slackers and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas” is never far from my desk, excavated Skaaren’s archives in the Ransom Center to find the nitty gritty of not just the writing process, but also the endless give and take behind the scenes in the movie industry. I never knew Skaaren, who died in 1990, but I’d heard about him since I moved to town in 1984. This book fills a huge gap in our understanding, not only of the screenwriter, but of Texas cinema and films in general.

MORE TO TEXAS TITLES TO READ: Best Texas books to read right now.

“The Cholo Tree.” Daniel Chacón. Piñata Books, Arte Público Press.

This book kept drawing us back into its simple web with its unfussy prose, seemingly familiar settings and yet an unexpected central character. Victor is a teenager who almost everybody suspects of being a cholo or street gang member. Yet he defies expectations almost from the start, helped by observational powers beyond his years as well as artistic talent and some effective champions. Author Chacón is based in El Paso, but his story could be about any urban Chicano landscape.

MORE TO TEXAS TITLES TO READ: Best Texas books to read straightaway.

“Silver City.” Jeff Guinn. Putnam.

In Cash McLendon, Texas author Jeff Guinn has found a reliably readable character to track through the Old West. As previously revealed in “Buffalo Trail” and “Glorious,” McLendon must escape a brutal assassin, Patrick “Killer Boots” Brautigan, while trying to find and to keep his romantic interest, Gabrielle. This time, he lands in Mountain View, Arizona, with multiple plot complications at the ready. All the confidently unspooled action seems prime fodder for a screen adaptation. All that’s left is the casting and financing. Based in Fort Worth, Guinn is in calm control of all the levers of the modern Western, including the violence that almost inevitably bloodies the pages from the start.

MORE TO TEXAS BOOKS TO READ: Best Texas books to read these days.

“Texas Ingenuity: Lone Star Inventions, Inventors & Innovators.” Alan C. Elliott. History Press.

As jacket art promises, this thin book is just for fun. Nothing wrong with that. The subtitle gives away the project: Elliott puts all sorts of subjects into the category of Texas ingenuity. So you get outsized historical figures such as Sam Houston and Barbara Jordan, but also innovators of a different ilk in May Kay, Oveta Culp Hobby, Howard Hughes and Jack Kilby. Pig Stands and Dr. Pepper compete for space with O. Henry and the Kilgore Rangerettes. Taken individually, these items would make diverting curiosities in a newspaper series. Taken together as a book, they might not hang together, but they provide more than a little distraction.

MORE TO TEXAS TITLES TO READ: Best Texas books to read nowadays.

MORE TO TEXAS TITLES TO READ: Best Texas books to read forthwith.

MORE TO TEXAS TITLES TO READ: Best recent books about Texas rivers.

Harvey relief benefits among the next vital Austin social events

Hurricane Harvey scrambled a lot of things, yet Austinites will still gather soon in fervent social groups, some of them to raise money directly for storm relief.

RECENTLY ADDED EVENTS:

Sept. 10: Hurricane Harvey benefit from Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Austin. The Local Post.

Sept: 10 Austin Chef’s Night Out: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief. 800 Congress Ave.

Patty Griffin will perform at one of Austin’s hurricane benefits. Suzanne Cordeiro/ for American-Statesman

Sept 1-10: Austin music scene benefits including Black Joe Lewis and Patty Griffin. Multiple locations.

Sept. 4: Auction for the Coast at Strings in the Woods. Pioneer Farms Dance Hall.

Sept. 5: Harvey Relief Benefit: Comedy Helps produced by Turk and Christy Pipkin and Moontower Comedy Festival. Paramount Theatre.

Already on the calendar for early September:

Sept. 1-3: Splash Days for LGBT Community. Various locations.

Texas’ RB Chris Warren III. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Sept. 1: Longhorns football season opens with Texas vs. Maryland. Royal-Memorial Stadium.

Sept. 1: “This Random World” opens. Austin Playhouse.

Sept. 1: “You Can’t Do That Dan Moody” from Georgetown Palace Theatre. Williamson County Courthouse.

Sept. 2: Gender Unbound Art Fest. Vuka.

Sept. 2: The Hillbenders present The Who’s Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry. One World Theatre.

Sept. 3: The Everly Brothers Experience featuring the Zmed Brothers. One World Theatre.

Sept. 5: Umlauf After Dark: Bucky Miller: Grackle Actions. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum.

Artistic Director Adrian Villegas will present one-man comedy “Barrio Daze.”

Sept. 7-16: Latino Comedy Project’s “Barrio Daze” with Adrian Villegas. The Institution Theater.

Sept. 7: Austin Way Fall Fashion 2017. Sunset Room.

Sept. 7: “Enfrascada” opens from Teatro Vivo. Emma Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center.

Sept. 7-10: Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Alamo Drafthouse South.

Sept. 8: The Big Give for I Live Here I Give Here. Hotel Van Zandt.

Sept. 8: David Small, baritone. Bates Recital Hall.

Anton Nel plays with the Austin Symphony. Contributed

Sept. 8-9: Austin Symphony Orchestra season opens with “Mozart in Paris.” Long Center.

Sept. 9: Little Black Dress Soirée: All That Glitters for Dress For Success. Phillips Event Cetner.

Sept. 9: “Eddie Ruscha: Turn on Delights.” Bale Creek Allen Gallery.

Emily Peacock’s show opens at Big Medium Gallery during Canopy Go. Contributed

Sept. 9: “Emily Peacock: Home Remedies for Cabin Fever” opens. Big Medium Gallery.

Sept. 9-10: “The Father/Son Project.” Hyde Park Theatre.

Sept. 10: Authentic Mexico Gourmet Gala for the Hispanic Alliance. Long Center.