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Westlake Fallout Shelter, Social Recap, Drug Empire and more

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

STYLE: What every midcentury modern home should have. My story in today’s Statesman: “With effort, Craig Denham heaves open the heavy metal door. He heads down the steep, thick concrete steps that are set in solid limestone. He takes a sharp left into the darkness, then another, before revealing an astounding time capsule preserved from the height of the Atomic Age. In the backyard of the creative director’s mid-century modern home in West Lake Hills is a 1961 fallout shelter in near-mint condition. Two retractable cots hang from one wall in a cramped room that is illuminated by a single light bulb. Nearby is a crank for the air shaft; across the way are spigots for water stored in tanks.In one corner is a low, odd-looking toilet sheltered behind a plastic shower curtain. “Probably leads right into the aquifer,” Denham, 44, jokes before pointing out a disabled periscope near the stairwell. “Perfect for the zombie apocalypse if it comes.”” http://shar.es/K9hJV (Be sure to check out the digital photo gallery by Rodolfo Gonzalez.)

RECAP: As part of today’s Out & About print column. “Last year, it was held at a warehouse. This year, the Party with a Purpose checked into the Four Seasons Hotel, the classiest joint in town. Benefiting the Dell Children’s Global Surgical Outreach, the event featured the timeless Texas swing of Ray Benson and his band, as well as a clever digital auction bidding system. The outreach has, in its second year, gotten only as far as Guatemala, but with other partners it is sure to expand strategically. The cause got a crucial boost from Christine and LouisMessina, who brightened my evening with chat about her new business, the Candy Jar, and his high-flying music promotion clients, among them, yes, George Strait, Kenney Chesney and Taylor Swift. (He has four new acts that I’m sampling on Pandora.) http://shar.es/K94QR(For those of you who missed last weeks social updates, there’s much more.)

LAW: Man with Austin ties charged with running vast underground drugs website. Reported by Paul Elias of the AP. “FBI agents found him in the science fiction section of a small branch of the San Francisco public library, chatting online. The man known as Dread Pirate Roberts — 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht — was on his personal laptop Tuesday afternoon, authorities said, talking about the vast black market bazaar that is believed to have brokered more than $1 billion in transactions for illegal drugs and services. When a half-dozen FBI agents burst into the library in a quiet, blue-collar neighborhood, they abruptly ended Ulbricht’s conversation with a cooperating witness, pinned the Austin, Texas, native to a floor-to-ceiling window and then took him off to jail, law enforcement and library spokeswomen said.” http://shar.es/K9CKA(The name sounds so famliar.)

CITY: New wave of student housing crests in West Campus. Reported by Benjamin Wermund in the Statesman: “University of Texas students living at the newly opened Callaway House can catch a movie by heading downstairs to the theater, which shows current films like “Lee Daniel’s The Butler.” The 24-hour gym boasts glass walls that roll back to let the breeze blow through when it’s not 90-plus outside. The rooftop pool overlooks campus and the UT Tower. These kinds of housing perks have become the norm in West Campus, a neighborhood once known for bungalows and frat houses. High-end high-rises began to pop up throughout the neighborhood almost immediately after city ordinances changed to allow buildings taller than three stories. The rush of construction slowed for a few years with the recession, but is set to pick up again. Nearly 1,000 new units are in the pipeline at six complexes, most of them marketed as luxury student apartments that are now five years more modern than the 1,400 or so luxury student apartments that started opening in 2007.” http://shar.es/K9jqL(This is not the West Campus of the 1980s.)

STATE: Zebra mussels threaten Texas reservoirs. Reported by Edgar Walters in the Texas Tribune: “With the discovery of invasive zebra mussels in Central Texas’ Belton Lake, experts are now worried that the destructive bivalve’s spread will create long-term logistical and ecological complications for the state’s reservoirs and drinking water. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department last week confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Belton Lake, nearly 200 miles south of other lakes known to contain the species. Zebra mussels were first identified in Texas in 2009, but the Belton Lake discovery marks the first confirmation of the species in the Brazos River basin. Unlike most native mussel populations, zebra mussels can attach themselves to hard surfaces, including pipes. Once they grab hold, they colonize on top of one another, bonding together so strongly within a reservoir’s pipe systems that they can restrict the flow of the pumped water, said Brian Van Zee, regional director for the parks department.” http://bit.ly/19ZVQeA(This is bad. Really bad.)