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‘ 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