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Posted: 9:54 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014

Whole Foods Domain Preview Party, Tea Party's Real Boss and more  

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Michael Barnes
Damon Hartye, Cali Huffman and Zane Wilemon at Whole Foods Market Domain Preview Party

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Michael Barnes
Lauren Yapundich (Green Plate Foods) and Macayla Baird (Pedernales Cellars) at Whole Foods Market Domain Preview Party
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Michael Barnes
Eileen Harvey and Ari Romano from Prepared Foods at Whole Foods Market Domain Preview Party

By Michael Barnes

FOOD: Once we got in ... a wonderland. The line for the Whole Foods Market Domain Preview Party snaked around the parking lot. In the end, however, more than 1,400 happy guests surged through the crisply designed store, sampling mostly local food and drink. Meanwhile, the event at the long-delayed store raised some $14,000 for Citizen Generation, the signature giving group for the younger set. Notables wove in and out of the crowd. I caught up with veteran reporter Pete Szilagyi and Africa charity founder Zane Wilemon, then joshed with Statesman transpo columnist Ben Wear about the drive out to and from the Domain during rush hour. (It's all in the timing.) Tried to chase down Kirk Rudy from the Endeavor Real Estate Group, which developed the Domain, but he and glamorous wife Amy Rudy slipped away at the last minute. (How's the store? More streamlined than the mother ship on North Lamar, which, personally, I prefer.)

POLITICS: How a 31-year-old is tearing apart the Right's signature group. From Julia Ioffe's story in The New Republic: "On a Thursday evening at the end of August, a respectable, older crowd waited in the ballroom of the Double Tree in Wilmington, Delaware, to hear Jim DeMint speak. The dashing former South Carolina senator and Tea Party icon had been flying around the country on a private jet to stump for the cause of defunding Obamacare, and Wilmington was the last stop on his nine-city tour. In Dallas, he was joined by his protégé Ted Cruz, but most of the time it was just DeMint and his barker, Michael Needham. In that Delaware ballroom, Needham, a dark-haired, square-jawed young man, dressed in a sensibly checkered button-down shirt and pleated khaki pants, was warming up the crowd. He strutted around the makeshift stage with the kind of robustness that masks a certain Washington stiffness. “Can we, in the month of September, achieve defunding Obamacare?” he boomed. “Yes, we can!” yelled the crowd." http://bit.ly/1bdTPys  (Eye-opening story. Well worth the read.)

MUSIC 1: Looking back at breakthrough Lucinda Williams record. From Peter Blackstock's story in the Statesman: "It must have been a discouraging time for Lucinda Williams. The year was 1988, and the budding Americana singer-songwriter was leading a great band that played regularly at Los Angeles hot spots. But the pay for the gigs was paltry, and record deals were a pipe dream. Sony had helped her make a demo but went no further; independent labels such as Rounder, Rhino and Sugar Hill had passed on her as well. And then the impossible happened. Rough Trade, a British label known for envelope-pushing rock acts such as the Smiths and Cabaret Voltaire, was starting up a U.S. branch — and they wanted to sign her. Williams still vividly remembers the phone call from Rough Trade’s Robin Hurley: “He said, ‘We love your songs, we love your voice. Do you want to make a record?’” http://shar.es/Unfta (Welcome back, Peter, to our music staff!)

MUSIC 2: Fun Fun Fun Fest will be at Auditorium Shores this year. From Deborah Sengupta Stith's story in the Statesman: "The construction plan for a $3.5 million renovation of Auditorium Shores has been adjusted so that one of the largest annual events at the park in the center of the city won’t be displaced in 2014. Fun Fun Fun Fest organizers announced Tuesday that the festival will return Nov. 7-9 to Auditorium Shores. The event — featuring music, comedy and more that puts a new-school angle on Austin weird — was the last of more than a dozen left looking for new locations during the 14-month renovation project that started in December. The adjustments don’t change the overall schedule for the multiphase project at the heavily used park, project coordinator Marty Stump of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department said. http://shar.es/UnfSg  (Welcome Deborah over from Austin360 as our other staff music writer. Note that we now have two full-timers on the Austin music beat!)

SCHOOL: Universities coming out of controversial times. From Reeve Hamilton's story in the Texas Tribune: "In 2012, Hunter Rawlings, the president of the Association of American Universities,warned that Texas was “ground zero” for a controversial push to make higher education more utilitarian. On Monday, during an interview in Austin, he sounded tentatively more hopeful. Although budgetary constraints and political attitudes have recently focused significant pressure and attention on public universities — and the University of Texas at Austin, in particular — Rawlings said, “It’s been happening across the country, but I’d say we’re beginning to come out of the worst of that.”  But while there is a sense that some political turmoil may be subsiding nationally and in Texas, difficulties remain in the form of strained research budgets, demand for more effective approaches to teaching key subjects and a wave of public doubt about the value of a degree. Despite these, Rawlings insisted that there were reasons to have faith in the American higher education system. http://trib.it/1lY1sOp  (You can hear the tentative sighs of relief.)

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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