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Marbridge, Grace Kim, Carla McDonald, Austin Bar History and more

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

HEALTH: Marbridge promises work, life, friendship. From my story in the Statesman: “Barbara Jones didn’t make friends easily in high school. Overweight and unhappy, she was bullied. Even after high school in Houston, Jones wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of her life. Then, on the advice of a therapist, she moved into Marbridge, a residential center in Manchaca for clients with cognitive challenges. I’ve made lots of friends,” says Jones, now 21, slimmer because of the center’s fitness programs. “My best friend, Megan, moved down here shortly after I did. We have a blast messing with each other. It’s not too mean. It’s fun.” Jones frankly didn’t know how to respond when people at Marbridge — staff members and residents alike — were nice to her. “I didn’t know how to take it — now that I’m popular!” she says with broad smile under averted eyes. “The fact that I’m living away from my parents, but not completely on my own, I have the support I need.” Formerly known as Marbridge Ranch — started by Marge and Ed Bridges in 1953 for their son Jim and other boys like him — the center has provided a spectrum of services for more than 60 years.” http://shar.es/Nt8rI

MUSIC: Grace Kim leads EDM culture out of the clubs. From my story in the Statesman: “In her mid-20s, Grace Kim tended bar at the Davenport Lounge, the legendary house music spot in Houston. She found herself distracted by the music. “They were playing all this underground stuff,” Kim, now 35, recalls. “Stuff you don’t hear on mainstream radio. I’d write down the remix on a little receipt. I was more excited about that than the tip.” These days, Kim, also known as DJ Nabiya de Grace — “nabiya” means “butterfly” in Korean, an homage to her family’s culture and a symbol of her life’s journey — is the resident spinner at the Circuit of the Americas. An ambassador of sorts for the circuit, she enlivens the Paddock Club, Main Grandstand and Austin360 Amphitheater with her singular blend of electronic dance music. She also plays other public and private events. “I’m fascinated by what happens when you take the DJ out of the nightclub,” she says. “What happens when you apply DJ culture to lifestyle brands, for instance?” http://shar.es/Nt8Vm

FOOD: Socializing under the Texas sun. From Beth Goulart Monson’ story in the Statesman: “It’s summertime, dolls — time for an outdoor soiree. So says Carla McDonald, Austin hostess, former marketing executive, television host and founder of the entertaining website the Salonnière (thesalonniere.com). With a tone aptly self-described as “conversational and frolicsome,” McDonald and her associates dish details on how to throw fabulous fetes, illustrating the articles with vintage photos that toss a saucy wink to parties of the past. Playfulness aside, McDonald believes in the power of parties in a very serious way. “Social gatherings and parties are certainly fun, but they’re more than that,” she says. “They’re a very important part of human existence and life and culture. We have an innate need to connect with one another.” http://shar.es/NtDYV

NIGHTLIFE: Drink in some history of Austin bars: From Christine Ayala’s story in the Statesman: “Austin’s bar scene has a tendency to make what’s old new again — here are four local spots that cater to a modern crowd while retaining fascinating histories. The Scoot Inn is thought to be the longest continually running saloon in Austin. It opened in 1871 in East Austin at 1308 E. Fourth St. and operated with a dirt floor for more than 100 years. General manager Lana Levins says despite its age, the bar’s past is not well-documented, but patrons often share stories of the years past and of former owners. One story Levins discovered mentioned a bar owner who helped catch an ax murder after being chased from the bar in 1885. Items turn up occasionally in the yard for outside seating.” http://shar.es/NtOaj