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Michael Barnes

Social Columnist

Michael Barnes writes about Austin's people, places, culture and history. He also writes the Out and About social column and blog.

Latest from Michael Barnes

Celtic Seafare founder Sebastien Caillabet served this amuse-bouche of smoked salmon belly with wasabi mayonnaise, cilantro and microgreens during a recent supper club.

Tasting something special in Dripping Springs salmon and supper club

The hostess looks, sounds and moves like a movie actor. So does the tattooed host.With abundant charm, wit and poise, Stephanie and Sebastien Caillabet lend a bit of informal Hollywood glamour to Dripping Springs during their weekly Celtic Seafare supper club meals.Although they moved here from Southern California in 2004 ...

Melvin “Buster” Miller, second from left, grew up on East Avenue and recalls zooming up the boulevard to the Cameron Highway to dance at Dessau Hall. Here he is in 1952 with racing buddies at an Oak Hill track.

Casting back to Austin’s lost East Avenue

Musician and educator Zeke Castro was delighted to read an American-Statesman story about East Avenue, known to Spanish-speakers in the area as la Calle Ancha (“wide street”).“We lived at Lydia and Seventh,” he says. “I’d walk down la Calle Ancha to school. Sometimes, we crawled under the parked train cars, ...

Bobby Cervantes with the ruins of the Sneed House in South Austin.

Frances Simnacher is a living Sneed — and Austin — legacy

Frances Sneed Simnacher, who turns 102 on Aug. 14, lives in the house where she was born.It was built in the 1850s by her ancestors, the Sneeds and the McCarthys, just east of the Montopolis area. Perched above Carson Creek — formerly called McCarthy Creek — it rises just a ...

John Houck and his wife Dee Leekha Houck at the Zilker disc golf course.

John and Dee Houck making Austin disc golf capital of the world

In 1982, a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., visited Austin. The former baseball, basketball and tennis player arrived with Frisbees in tow to compete in the World Freestyle Championships.Later that year, John Houck packed up his discs and moved to Austin.He went on to win the Freestyle Championships ...

DJ Protege keeps fans dancing at Rain on West Fourth Street.

Dancing downtown: Out all night to get lucky

People dance. Music demands it. Nowadays, Austinites dance at bars, clubs, studios, hotels, galas, house parties, dance halls and music venues, indoors or outdoors. During festivals, they dance in the streets. Some don’t wait for festivals to do so. Social dancing never went away. In fact, one could argue that ...

Bill and Sandy Woods at their wedding reception in 1965.

A time in Austin when everybody could know just about everybody

The 1960s was probably the last time when it was possible to know almost everybody of consequence in Austin.Even with sharp ethnic, social and economic divisions — as well as lingering segregation — one could bump into the putative leaders in this city of 200,000 souls almost anywhere.“Former Attorney General ...

The view from the cabin we visit on Black Pond in Maine.

Taking off for New England

My editors have always urged me not to write during vacation. They are right. Shouldn't work when I'm supposed to be unplugged. Still, I can't help but keep up with social media and email on the road. It would be insane not to do so. Can you imagine what would ...

Viutal Sounouvou and Laura Okoroji at Young African Leaders Initiative reception

Young African Leaders Initiative, 1,000,000,000,000,000 Watts and more

SCHOOL: President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative reception. Let me first make it clear that this was not an event attended by the U.S. head of state. It happened on the same day that President Barack Obama made a whirlwind tour of Austin's Paramount Theatre, Magnolia Café, Franklin Barbecue and ...

Marbridge, Grace Kim, Carla McDonald, Austin Bar History and more

HEALTH: Marbridge promises work, life, friendship. From my story in the Statesman: "Barbara Jones didn’t make friends easily in high school. Overweight and unhappy, she was bullied. Even after high school in Houston, Jones wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of her life. Then, on the advice of ...

DJ Nabiya de Grace, aka Grace Kim, is the resident DJ at Circuit of the Americas.

Grace Kim leads dance music culture out of the clubs

In her mid-20s, Grace Kim tended bar at the Davenport Lounge, the legendary house music spot in Houston. She found herself distracted by the music. “They were playing all this underground stuff,” Kim, now 35, recalls. “Stuff you don’t hear on mainstream radio. I’d write down the remix on a ...

 
 

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