A weekend for Dem pols in Austin
Michael Barnes, Out & About
Imagine meeting U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords,the rehabilitating Arizona congresswoman, and former Speaker of the U.S. House of RepresentativesNancy Pelosi during one short Austin weekend. Both interacted with your correspondent in a warm, relaxed and personable manner.
I encountered Giffords at the Highball, where publisher and philanthropist Marc Winkelman celebrated his 55th birthday, while colleague Paul Hoffman marked his 45th.
Besides the fabulous Winkelman family, the place was packed with Austin biggies, including every elected Democrat from San Antonio to Waco. Off in one banquette, overseen by Jeanne and Mickey Klein, were a quiet, yet familiar couple. Turns out it was Giffords and astronaut husband Mark Kelly.
Two nights later, Pelosi served as keynote speaker at the Johnson-Bentsen-Richards Dinner for the Travis County Democratic Party at the Four Seasons Hotel. The benefit was meticulously organized and rigidly hierarchical. Big donors squeezed into the VVIP lounge upstairs; mid-level types crowded into the larger VIP reception room downstairs; while others were left to wander the lobbies leading to the banquet room.
The dinner lionized former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, now an enormously influential consultant. Barnes doesn't lend his name to just any group — Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area is a rare exception — but he bore his laurels with dignity on Sunday. He introduced me to Madame Speaker as if sparking up a casual acquaintanceship on the street.
Other weekend affairs: The Pre-Party for Marathon Kids at the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel brought out Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Mary Herr Tally, Maria Groten, Kay Morris and Joy Authur.An opening at AMOA-Arthouse at the Jones Center introduced me to Basque artistFacundo Argañaraz and companion Nicole Crescenzi from San Francisco. The 50th birthday of Tribeza publisher George T. Elliman landed at the prismatic home of Dr. John Hogg and David Garza.Sharing gumbo and bread pudding with our friendsChristine Perrault Moline and Terrence Moline,recently returned from Belize and Guatemala, translated into conversational and gustatory paradise.
See austin360.com/outandabout for more detailed descriptions of these outings.