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The Long Weekend, Austin History, Burning Man and more

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

CALENDAR: Just because it’s a holiday weekend, doesn’t mean the socializing stops. Today: Interview Austin History Center archivist Mike Miller. Tonight: National Association of Hispanic Journalists reception at the American-Statesman. Friday: Interview lawyer and activist Jo Anne Christian at Caffé Medici. Friday night: Media dinner at Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood. Saturday: Pre-game tailgating at Hotel Ella. Saturday night: Patrice Carrara and Richard Williams wedding at the Clay Pit. Sunday night: Appetizers at Jamie and Albert Cantara’s. Later: Be Brave Benefit with Clint Black at the Oasis on Lake Travis. Monday: Writing.

HISTORY: We promise to keep adding to this Austin history page. Here’s a snip: “Pflugerville wasn’t always a suburb of Austin. In fact, before 1965, it wasn’t even a formally incorporated town. Yet folks settled in the fertile farming area as early as the 1840s. And, in 1904, George Pfluger laid out a railroad center that grouped together cotton gins, churches, homes and mercantile structures into a 16-block grid. Still, Pflugerville was pretty isolated out there on the sometimes dusty, sometimes muddy blackland prairie. “People were self-sufficient,” says Vernagene H. Mott, 71, born and raised in Pflugerville. “They butchered pork, beef, poultry. They grew orchards of peaches, plums, pears, figs. They planted potatoes, sugar cane, corn. They had vegetable gardens, smokehouses, butter. And, of course, the cheese factory was in Round Rock.” http://www.mystatesman.com/s/life/austin-history/

FESTS: Austin has always extended connections to Burning Man. From Tony Atkins’ story in the Statesman: “For the past nine years, firefighter Toby Heidel has dedicated his life to saving lives while extinguishing dangerous flames throughout Travis County.But on his own time, Heidel is all about the blaze. For the past 10 weeks, Heidel and dozens of volunteers have been building a 25-foot wooden effigy that will go up in flames this weekend at Burning Man in the middle-of-nowhere Nevada. Each August, over 65,000 burners flock to the Black Rock Desert to build a fully functioning pop-up city that is a mecca for people looking as much for transformative experiences as they are a good time. For that time, Black Rock Desert becomes Black Rock City, which is the third-most populated city in Nevada behind Reno and Las Vegas. Members of two Austin-based groups will be among the throngs at this year’s event, but they won’t just be bringing food, water, shelter and supplies for the week.” http://shar.es/11ovtg

TV: Prime time has never been more diverse. Why? From Esther Breger’ story in the New Republic: “Black-ish,” a sweet, likable sitcom premiering on ABC next month, doesn’t take very long to declare a thesis statement: “Sometimes I worry that, in order to make it, black folks have dropped a little bit of their culture and the rest of the world has picked it up.” This is part of an opening voice-over by Anthony Anderson, playing a wealthy suburban dad. Produced by Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore, “Black-ish” has been given a plum time slot after “Modern Family,” and it registers as a slightly more provocative version of that show. There’s a stubborn dad, an exasperated wife, a self-involved teenage girl. There are also jokes about O.J. Simpson, the L.A. riots, and a “negro inflation tax.” The elder son wants a bar mitzvah, and younger one doesn’t realize that Barack Obama is the first black president. If the “Modern Family” subtext is, When it comes to family, we’re all the same, then “Black-ish” is responding, Well, not exactly.”http://bit.ly/1tBwGxZ