Rita Lee, ‘Boyhood’ Oscar Noms, Marco Perella and more

rgz+Lee+03BUSINESS: From war-torn China to life’s rewards in Austin. Taken from my story in the Statesman: “Born in 1931, Rita Chiu-Yi Lee grew up in turbulent times. In 1937, the Japanese Empire invaded her native China, already torn by civil war. Her uncle sided with the Communist Chinese forces, her father with the Nationalists. After the Japanese publicly tortured the Austinite’s grandfather in front of their village, her family crossed the Japanese-Chinese war zone to find her father, Ma Chi Chuang, at the time an aide to Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. At another point, her father, by then an admiral, was given the task of escorting the Nationalist government’s treasures to the island of Taiwan when the Chinese Civil War (1927-1950) went the way of the Communists.” http://shar.es/1bpAoY

MOVIES 1: Austin’s “Boyhood” takes six Oscar nods. Taken from Joe Gross‘ story in the Statesman: “Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman” and Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” each picked up nine Oscar nominations Thursday morning, with  “The Imitation Game” scoring eight. Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” and Austin favorite Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” had six each. The best picture nominees are “American Sniper,” “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Selma.” In addition to best picture, “Boyhood” picked up nods for best director, best editing (for editor Sandra Adair), best supporting actor for Ethan Hawke, best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette and best original screenplay.” http://bit.ly/1IDZtsN

MOVIES 2: Who’s that guy? Taken from Stephen Harrigan‘s story in Texas Monthly: “There are 65 acting credits listed for Marco Perella on the Internet Movie Database, some of them in high-profile productions like JFK, Lone Star, and Friday Night Lights. But the characters he’s played tend to be identified on IMDb by labels like “Cab Driver,” “Townsperson,” “2nd Young Guy,” “Preppy Customer,” “Starbucks Guy,” “Skinny Dude,” and “Jester (scenes deleted).” The Austin actor made a typically brief appearance in a television movie I wrote a dozen years ago, and I congratulate myself on having gone to the extra effort of providing his character, a psychopathic drifter in nineteenth-century Missouri, with an actual name.” http://bit.ly/1yhox7J

Black Rural Schools, Austin Snow Day 1985, Investigating CPS and more

Untitled - 39HISTORY: Studying 42 rural African-American schools in Travis County. Taken from my story in th the Statesman: “For decades, the Rev. Willie B. Routt Sr. retained fond memories of teachers at the tiny Gravel Hill School. “They cared for us at school as well as at home,” Routt told an interviewer about the Manor-area school in the 1930s. “We were all treated the same. It didn’t matter if we wore the same clothes every day, and the same the next year by a brother or sister. If we had no money or food, they would look out for us and showed love.” Built in 1928 on two acres of land in eastern Travis County, Gravel Hill was among 42 rural African-American schools that had been established near Austin by the mid-1930s. Most physical traces of these one-, two- or three-room schools have disappeared, but they have not been forgotten.”  http://shar.es/1HLaOf

CITY: Oh boy, do I remember the Austin snow days of 1984-1985! Taken from stories by Nancy Flores the Statesman: “When it snows in Central Texas, it’s a moment to remember. It’s now been 30 years since Austin’s last major snow event, when 7.5 inches fell on the capital city within a two-week stretch. When we asked Austinites what they recalled from the January 1985 snowstorm that paralyzed the city, the memories flooded in by the dozens. Recollections were funny, emotional and quirky. In lieu of appropriate winter clothes, for example, some Austinites wore socks on their hands instead of mittens. Others got creative with makeshift sleds or hosted snow parties.” http://shar.es/1HLaxC

HEALTH: Brilliant investigative work on Child Protective Services. Taken from stories by Andrea Ball and Eric Dexheimer in the Statesman: “In 2009, the Legislature ordered Child Protective Services to publicly record every abuse- and neglect-related death in the state in hopes of identifying patterns and discovering ways to prevent abuse deaths. But the Statesman has learned that CPS has not systematically analyzed those reports, meaning that in important ways, Texas’ child protection workers effectively have been operating with blinders, missing deadly patterns and key pieces of information that could help protect kids.” http://bit.ly/1y8z5mp

Your Own Austin History, Austin People to Watch, Lower Rio Grande Valley and more

During the slow holidays, we share some stories that have filled our time.

From the Texas State Library and Archives' current show of early Texas photographs.
From the Texas State Library and Archives’ current show of early Texas photographs.

HISTORY: Build your own Austin history project in 2015. Taken from my Statesman story: “Hey, do you remember when … ?” During 2015, your best resource on Austin’s past could be sitting right next to you. Or maybe that person is reading quietly in the guest bedroom. Or down the street on a porch watching the world go by. Austin histories start with questions for actual Austinites. Take this one: “How long has your family lived here?” That back-fence query, made 18 years ago, led to the discovery that our section of the Bouldin neighborhood was founded after the Civil War as one of Austin’s 15 freedmen communities. Some African-American families in South Austin — and elsewhere — didn’t move to East Austin after the 1920s, when city planners hoped to concentrate services there. Brackenridge or South Side, now subsumed in the SoCo frenzy, remained 100 percent African-American into the 1940s.” http://shar.es/1H4clG

CITY: Austin people to watch in 2015. Taken from group Statesman story: “From books and movies to recipe apps, new bars and new music, folks in Austin have a lot planned for 2015. The Austin360 staff rounded up a selection of people to watch, people we expect to do fun, inspiring and creative things well into the year and beyond. Cheers! … Mark Madrid: Few people injected more energy into the Austin social, business and nonprofit scenes in 2014 than Madrid, president and CEO of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He graduated from UT, spent time in New York, Mexico City and Houston, then hit the ground running last year here, uniting disparate forces around the chamber as never before. (Look for a larger profile on Madrid on Monday in print and online.) http://shar.es/1H4c5s

TRAVEL: Rivers, resacas and rare birds in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Taken from my travel story in the Statesman: “The Rio Grande staggers the imagination. Almost 2,000 miles long, it defies the type of sustained Texas “river tracing” that Houston buddy Joe Starr and I have ardently pursued by car and on foot during the past few years. The Texas-Mexico border alone is 1,000 miles long, which Keith Bowden tackled by kayak and canoe and then recorded in the riveting, even if sometimes irritating, “The Tecate Journals.” The Rio Bravo is further revealed — in fragments — in Jan Reid’s magnificently edited collection “Rio Grande,” which we dipped into on this, the 32nd of 50 planned Texas river tracings.” http://shar.es/1H4cUZ

CHARITY: Why the Salvation Army shortfall? Well … Taken from James Barragan‘s story in the Statesman: “The Salvation Army of Austin is facing a critical funding gap of $300,000 for 2014, without which the group might be unable to continue providing its services at the same level next year, the charity announced Tuesday. The charity’s branch in Austin provided food, shelter and other services to more than 400,000 people in Travis and Williamson counties in 2014, said Jan Gunter, communications and community relations director for the group. If the funding gap isn’t closed, she said, it could mean the Salvation Army won’t be able to serve as many people next year.”  http://shar.es/1H4cVE

Austin Traffic, Textile Launch, Longhorn Network and more

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.

Auctioneer Heath Hale, Season for Caring, MoPac Updates and more

Auctioneer Heath Hale in action.
Auctioneer Heath Hale in action.

BUSINESS: Heath Hale’s auctioneering life. Taken from my column in the Statesman: “Salado-raised Heath Hale attended his first livestock auction as an infant. His father, Tommy Hale, is an auctioneer. So are two uncles and two cousins. As soon as he could, Hale joined the family trade, calling car auctions on weekdays and charity auctions on some weekends. His younger brother and best friend, Seth Hale, is his lead “ringman,” or bid spotter. “I love having the microphone in my hand,” Hale, 29, says. “And I’ve gotten to do that every day for 11 years.” Recently, Hale and his team made news by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars during live auctions for the high-profile Andy Roddick Foundation, Rise School of Austin, and Mack, Jack & McConaughey benefits.” http://shar.es/1Xywqp

CHARITY: Reports on last year’s Season for Caring folks. Taken from Nicole Villalpando‘s story in the Statesman: “A safe place to live. A car to drive. Medical bills erased. Peace of mind. That’s what Statesman readers gave to last year’s Season for Caring featured families. Since 1999, Statesman Season for Caring has raised more than $8 million in monetary donations and in-kind goods and services and helped thousands of people around Central Texas through the nonprofit agencies that are part of the program. Today we look back on the 2013 families before we kick off the 16th Season for Caring campaign on Sunday with 11 new featured families.” http://shar.es/1XywPR

 TRANSIT: Extremely informative updates on MoPac construction. Taken from Ben Wear‘s column in the Statesman: “The caller, who spends more of his life on MoPac Boulevard than he would like, had a request for the transportation reporter: Could you do a series of stories, complete with big drawings, laying out what MoPac will look like when all this construction ends? Well, maybe I can do it, or something like it, but only much closer to that (hopefully not mythical) time about a year from now when the tolled express lanes open. What I can do for now, here, is give you a MoPac for Dummies version.” 

Party for Good, Prime Timers, Barton Creek Footbridge and more

Earl Maxwell of the St. David's Foundation, winner of the Libby Malone Community Leader Award at Greenlights' Party for Good.
Earl Maxwell of the St. David’s Foundation, winner of the Libby Malone Community Leader Award at Greenlights’ Party for Good.

CHARITY: Greenlights is all revved up. The nonprofit that helps out nonprofits recently merged with Innovation+. Thus, Greenlights now acts more like a social venture with hundreds of social partners. Its annual Party for Good reflected an entrepreneurial change of tone, mission and energy. The Four Seasons Hotel banquet room was packed with noisy backers of the nonprofit community for a ceremony that culminated in highly anticipated awards. Mark Kiester, dynamic director of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, won as Nonprofit Executive. Small, Medium and Large Nonprofits selected from finalists were Hays County Food Bank, Capital Area Dental Foundation and Communities in Schools Central Texas. Universally admired Earl Maxwell, head of the St. David’s Foundation, was named the Libby Malone Community Leader of the Year. I had a tremendous time catching up at our table with Regina Rogoff, captain of the soon-to-expand People’s Community Clinic.

NIGHTLIFE: Twenty-five years of good times. In 1989, Austin christened the just the third chapter of Prime Timers Worldwide. Now there are more than 75 global outlets of this social group that brings together mature gay and bisexual men. The founder, who prefers his name not appear in publication, lives here in Austin. The Silver Anniversary party at the Brass House played heavily on shared memories, but also included a lively series of solos and duets from the Capital City Men’s Chorus, whose holiday concert is Dec. 6-7 at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church. I deeply grateful to my table host Dallas Heenan for guiding me through the prime anniversary week and a warm visit with the founder, a former professor with a genius for organization.

TRANSIT: Barton Creek bridge delayed. From Ben Wear‘s story in the Statesman. “The city of Austin’s quest to span the Barton Creek greenbelt and nearby Loop 360 with bridges for cyclists and pedestrians, close to a decade in the planning, is six months behind schedule as the city and its state partner grapple with a geology problem. Construction on the almost $11 million, two-phase project began early this year with tree clearing south of the creek and construction of bike lanes on the MoPac Boulevard frontage roads abutting the greenbelt.But the project has been mostly put on hold as consulting engineers redesign underground structures that would support the 1,045-foot-long, 14-foot-wide bridge over the creek and greenbelt. The bridge’s concrete path will be 12 to 14 feet below the northbound highway bridge just to the west, officials said.” http://shar.es/10P7WW

Austin & Gayborhoods, Austin Opera Dinner, Painful Caterpillars and More

Anthony and Marcia Anthony Toprac at Austin Opera Opening Night Dinner.
Anthony and Marcia Toprac at Austin Opera Opening Night Dinner.

CITY: Why doesn’t Austin have gayborhoods? Taken from my story in the Statesman: “You might have heard that Austin could soon join San Francisco, Vancouver, British Columbia, and other cities with a set of rainbow crosswalks. At first, some business owners in the Warehouse District frowned on the idea, put forth by Austin Pride, to paint the intersection of West Fourth and Colorado streets with a spectrum of colors associated with the gay community. Yet few opposed the idea after the Austin City Council took up the matter in September. Private dollars would pay to install and maintain the crosswalks. In other cities, the distinctive rainbows — sometimes temporary — have been placed in gay and lesbian neighborhoods. Austin doesn’t have — never had — a true “gayborhood,” defined as a district with a high density of LGBTQ residents, businesses and street life.” http://shar.es/10OpqF

ARTS: They came from everywhere. Participants in the Austin Opera opening night dinner hailed from Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Houston and elsewhere. They live in Austin now. Yet uniformly, they declared their happiness that Austin supports an opera company as uniformly skillful and fiscally sound as ours. Other mid-size cities are losing their companies, not Austin. After the merry dinner, which included some costumed guests, we settled in for Verdi‘s “A Masked Ball.” Now if a company can take this gloriously messy opera and turn it into an unmessy glory, then it has matured to the point when the whole city should celebrate. Extra drama: The lead baritone, Michael Chioldi, was a last-minute replacement, and the lead tenor, Dominick Chenes, was making his professional debut. Everyone I consulted agreed that they performed magnificently alongside Richard Buckley‘s flawless orchestra and against Richard Isackes‘ set designs and Wendall Harrington‘s sumptuous projections.

NATURE: Perhaps the most compelling story of the week. Taken from Pat Beach‘s article in the Statesman: “Tired of Ebola and ISIS keeping you up nights? Consider switching to the puss caterpillar. They’re fuzzy, cute and very much want to make you cry. Best of all, they could be in your back yard right now. With their brown-gray fuzz, they may look like they’re just begging to be petted, but curb the impulse: Beneath that coat are spines that carry the most toxic venom found in any caterpillar in the United States.heir population can fluctuate because of a variety of factors, including weather and food availability. But for whatever reason, they’re being reported in our area in greater numbers this year, according to Wizzie Brown, an entomologist and program specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension for Travis and Williamson counties.” http://shar.es/10O201

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post. Richard Isackes was inaccurately credited with the projections in Austin Opera’s production. He designed the sets.

Margo Howard, #WOWW, Swan Songs, Danielle Crespo’s F1 and Phillip and Laura Brown

Danielle Crespo is your guide to Formula One parties.
Danielle Crespo is your guide to Formula One parties.

MEDIA: Margo Howard is a firecracker. Short, frank and fiery-haired, the former advice columnist says she’s had five husbands, four of them hers. The only daughter of Ann Landers, the writer seems to have been funny all her life, despite some bad luck with spouses, including actor Ken Howard. She’s written a short book, charmingly titled “Eat, Drink and Remarry.” Two dozen or so admirers gathered atop the Four Seasons Residences to hear her wisecracks. “I wrote this book as a public service,” Howard says. “My destiny: Always a bride, never a bridesmaid.” At 74, she’s whip-sharp. She amused the witty likes of Ruth Pennebaker, Brenda Bell, Sarah Bird, Jean Rather and Stephen Harrigan. (Now that would be a dinner party guest list!)

CITY: Joy Pecoraro is wowed by women. So much so, she interviewed and videotaped 46 Austin-area women about how they overcame challenges in their lives. She’s got scores more on her to-do list for what she dubs her “#WOWW Campaign.” (Nothing like getting the hashtag in the official name, is there?) A few dozen folks gathered at the rooftop bar of 219 West on West Sixth Street to toast the campaign. Along with Wow Women such as County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir, with whom I spoke about supposedly flat Travis County early voting, there were a few outstanding men, such as Alex Torres, who mentors mentors through the Crossroads Scholarship Fund. Among others interviewed were Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, Whataburger owner Lynn Dobson and cosmetics queen Rochelle Rae.

MUSIC: Name a style, any style. Swan Songs will play it for you at the end of life. It can sound a bit morbid at first, but it’s a classically Austin addition to the comforts one is now afforded at home, in hospice or elsewhere. A Swan Songs benefit, featuring two-time requestee Ray Benson with Milk Drive filled up Shoal Crossing Event Center. Before he played, we heard about all the styles that have been performed for the dying, including Lithuanian accordion music. Austin must be one of the very few cities that can support such a program. An honorarium goes to the musical artists, who often donate the money back.

SPORTS: Danielle Crespo geared up for Formula One. Taken from my story in the Statesman: “Curious about the Formula One parties this week? Ask Danielle Crespo. The Texas State University graduate, 29, tracks all the socializing around the Circuit of the Americas races. You can scan her crisply aligned calendars, news and party notes at SuitePass.com and AustinRaceEvents.com. Crespo, who works by day for a commercial building company, needed a creative outlet. She had been impressed by the cosmopolitan lifestyle when she lived in Barcelona, Spain, and later witnessed the Grand Prix setup, though not the race, in Monaco. When she heard that the big race was headed to her stomping grounds two years ago, she realized that some education was in order. “Austin’s version of lifestyle luxury is inherently different,” she says. “At the same time, we have a lot of things to offer that other places don’t.”” http://shar.es/10qFKj

FOOD: How the Browns learned about customer care. Taken from my story in the Statesman: In June 2010, Phillip and Laura Brown got married. The couple, both 24, had trained for careers in the hospitality business and planned to open a small meat and cheese shop. Jim McIngvale, Laura’s father and owner of Houston’s Gallery Furniture, had other plans. He announced in a speech at the wedding that the young Browns would open a big, new restaurant. Not only that, it would open in November of the same year. “We had never owned a business before,” Phillip, now 28, remembers. “Never done anything on this scale. It was trial by error, learning on the fly.”” http://shar.es/10qQGA

Hamilton Book Awards, La Dolce Vita, 175 Reasons We Love Austin and more

Gabriela Polit and Carlos Ramos at University Co-Op's Hamilton Book Awards.
Gabriela Polit and Carlos Ramos at University Co-Op’s Hamilton Book Awards.

BOOKS: Start with the fact that the woman who discovered the origins of writing, Denise Schmandt-Besserat, sat at our table. They Eastern Studies professor — who taught me Egyptology 30 years ago — was up from another Hamilton Book Award. To my left was Luis Caffarelli, a leader  in the field of partial differential equations, who later in the evening won the 2014 Career Research Excellence Award from the University Co-Op, which uses the Hamilton Awards to recognize publications by University of Texas faculty. To my right were Eve Nichols and Ockhee Bego, who put together UT’s fabulous fashion show each year. Benjamin Ibarra-Sevilla and Kirk Lynn, from architecture and theater respectively, shared the Creative Research Award, and Rachael Rawlins from architecture took him the Best Research Paper Award for her work on planning for fracking on the Barnett Shale. The Grand Prize went to Denise Spellberg from history for “Thomas Jefferson‘s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders.” Runners up: Huaiyin Lin on Chinese history, Allison Lowery on historical wig styling and Mark Metzler on the postwar Japanese miracle. Held these days at the AT&T Center, it’s among the most illuminating nights of the Austin social season.

Sean Gaulager and Tamara Becerra Valdez at La Dolce Vita for the Contemporary Austin.
Sean Gaulager and Tamara Becerra Valdez at La Dolce Vita for the Contemporary Austin.

FOOD: Going against the grain, I paid little attention to the delicious bites, ambrosial sips or divine dusk at Laguna Gloria. Instead, for this glorious La Dolce Vita outdoor food and wine party to benefit the Contemporary Austin, I focused on longer conversations. The Contemo’s Louis Grachos told me about the Austin museum’s long-term plans and partnerships on public art, while Pedernales Cellar’s Fredrik Osterberg talked about his Swedish origins, his life in finance and his family’s decision to retreat to the Hill Country to make splendid wine. Tribeza’s Tim Dillon joined me analyzing the quitter, less manic tone at this year’s Dolce Vita. Artist Sean Gaulager filled me in on his recent doings and Michael Hoinski discussed the prospects of the often ignored Brush Square Museums. And those were just some highlights. Fave dish? Probably a version of mac and cheese from Ramen Tatsu-ya.

Alex Choice and Simon Cawley at La Dolce Vita for the Contemporary Austin.
Alex Choice and Simon Cawley at La Dolce Vita for the Contemporary Austin.

CITY:  175 Reasons We Love Austin. My personal contributions, taken from a group effort in today’s Austin360: https://www.facebook.com/austin360/posts/10152779602944395

  1. Walking anywhere in Austin. Doesn’t matter where. Mostly, however, in the central city, where, thanks to the Great Streets program, pedestrians are safe, shaded, comfortable and happy. (austintexas.gov/page/great-streets)
  2. Sitting in sidewalk cafes such as Second Bar + Kitchen. There’s nothing more luxurious. And the pleasure can be had for the price of a cup of soup and a sandwich. The people-watching in Austin is priceless. (congressaustin.com/second)
  3. Reading anywhere. From the Texas Book Festival to BookPeople and South Congress Books. But especially on our front porch in the Bouldin neighborhood, where our attention is pleasantly interrupted by passing neighbors and strangers. (texasbookfestival.org, bookpeople.com, southcongressbooks.com)
  4. Parties at the W Austin, Driskill or Four Seasons hotels. Oh, any old place will do if the guests are right. But these three inns have been dishing out hospitality on a large scale for a long time. Some newcomers and old-timers are upping their games, too. (whotelaustin.com), (driskillhotel.com), (fourseasons.com/austin)
  5. Coffee at Jo’s, Seventh Flag, Caffe Medici or Houndstooth. There are more than 100 inviting, inventive and independent coffee shops in town. I end up at these candidates most often because their decaf is as good as the leaded, the wifi is strong and the people are pleasing. (joscoffee.com, seventhflagcoffee.com, caffemedici.com, houndstoothcoffee.com)
  6. Shopping at Trader Joe’s, Central Market, H-E-B or Farm to Market. I grew up in grocery stores. I visit them like landmarks when I travel. I’ll drop by any Austin market, including hometown giant, Whole Foods Market, but these other four take up the majority of my happy hunting and gathering time. (traderjoes.com, centralmarket.com, heb.com, fm1718.com, wholefoodsmarket.com)
  7. Researching at the Austin History Center, Briscoe Center for American History, etc. Austin is home to dozens of top-notch archives and libraries. In 2016, a new Central Library will open. I’ll be there Day 1. Meanwhile, these are blessed oases of insight into our past. (library.austintexas.gov/ahc, cah.utexas.edu)
  8. Any Longhorns sporting event. Lately, it’s been the volleyball team, whose play at Gregory Gym has been nothing less than electrifying. Still, the only two UT teams I haven’t seen in action are golf and cross country. (texassports.com)
  9. Any theater, live or otherwise. People sometimes forget that I spent more time in the theater than in the newspaper business. Really don’t mind seeing theater at any venue, but I’m grateful for Zach’s Topfer Theatre and the Long Center, in part because, yes, they are easy walking distance from our house. (zachtheatre.org, thelongcenter.org)
  10. The people. Every night, I go out. Not because I want to, but because it’s my job. As soon as I reach my destination, however, I’m delighted by the open, smart, kind, fit and fun folks that populate every strata of Austin life.