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Posted: 9:50 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013

Keep Austin Generous, LatinWorks, Buggaboo, Carter Beckworth and more 

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Michael Barnes
Leo Ramirez and Joshua Vaughan at Keep Austin Generous party

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Brandy and Andrea Gill
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Cassi Pires and Lander Coronado at LatinWorks Gatsby Christmas Party

By Michael Barnes

CHARITY: Another account of ongoing Austin generosity. The light dusting of guests at Mexic-Arte Museum for the Keep Austin Generous party on Friday gave me plenty of time to chat with Leo Ramirez. The wide-eyed son of a stellar McAllen math teacher, Ramirez has excelled at Austin tech companies such as Trilogy and Oracle. Yet his heart returns to the kids who needed the most help. So he has invested more and more of his valuable time with groups such as Keep Austin Generous, Southwest Key and a micro-giving program in development. Even as I departed into the chilly fog, Ramirez told me more. There's no doubt that he's a prime candidate for an Out & About profile. (Yet another reason to go out, even on a night that made downtown Austin feel like something from "Taxi Driver.")

MEDIA: Greeting me at the door was the man himself. LatinWorks co-founder Manny Flores firmly grasped my hand and, like a good pol, recalled concrete details about recent stories published by this columnist. He then told me about his fourth-generation Texas family, which might make for fertile Out & About territory. The Christmas party at Coppertank events center was decked out in a "Great Gatsby" theme. Guests obeyed the invitation to dress up according to the era. Not me. Eventually, it dawned on me that people flock to holiday company parties so they can talk shop after a few liberating drinks. (That kinda left me out.)

MUSIC: Austin artists never fail to amaze. After the first two Friday parties, I headed to Stubbs for a Carter Beckworth set. You might remember that I profiled the Austin songwriter who performed like a bottle rocket this night with four hyper-skilled backup musicians. Although the sound mix did his vocals no service, Beckworth's consummate musicianship combined with his youthful charisma to excite the crowd, which, like so many in Austin, shifted to and from the stage. Before Beckworth, Buggaboo dredged up all sorts of river-bottom sounds. Heartening to hear old Southern forms reformulated so inventively, especially by spirited guitarist Chad Pope. (For $7, several hours of priceless Austin music.)

FOOD: Drop in, have drinks, hang out. From Virginia B. Wood and company's package in the Austin Chronicle: "One of the most interesting repercussions of the high cost of Downtown real estate is the migration of new independent bars and restaurants to the fringes of Central city neighborhoods. Everywhere from SoLa and SoCo to Burnet Road, North Loop, Manor Road, and Airport Boulevard, a new generation of entrepreneurs is turning old houses, auto parts stores, and warehouses into casual eateries and watering holes, offering neighborhoods walkable and bike-able spots for dining and socializing closer to home. Based on the recent investigations of three of these newish spots by Chronicle food writers Melanie Haupt, Anna Toon, and Jessi Cape, it's obvious they are already demonstrating an undeniable hang-out-ability factor. But we couldn't call any of them a dining destination just yet. http://bit.ly/1cIvwsS  (I'd argue with the intial premise, but the reporting sizzles.)

MEDIA: Obama's Selfie-Gate. From Lauren Collins' story in The New Yorker: "Allow me a thought or two on the triple selfie that became this week’s leading event of real-fake-news? The photograph, and the photograph of the photograph, and the commentary surrounding it, improbably united two subjects I’m interested in: Michelle Obama and Danish television. As I wrote in January of last year, the progressivism of Denmark — where seventy per cent of women work and ninety-seven per cent of children between the ages of three and five attend day care — makes surprisingly good fodder for TV shows, which are “free to plumb the realities, rather than the desirability, of gender equality and women’s liberation.” Like Birgitte Nyborg, the female Staatsminister in “Borgen,” Denmark’s Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, is a woman. Like Nyborg’s, her personal life has sometimes intruded in distracting ways upon her professional one: Does she wear too much Gucci? Is her husband gay? (Thorning-Schmidt, who is married to Stephen Kinnock, the son of the former British Labour leader Neil, was forced to deny such rumors publicly.) The difference between TV shows and the news is that the former is entitled to create drama out of speculative notions about what happens when men and women hang out together in the inner chambers of the political tent. Say what you will about “the selfie seen around the world,” but the most juvenile thing to emerge from Wednesday’s memorial service for Nelson Mandela is the notion that Barack Obama was flirting with Thorning-Schmidt, and that Michelle Obama was mad about it." http://nyr.kr/1bFjnDS  (Not a legit news story, but interesting angle.)

Michael Barnes

About Michael Barnes

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

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