Rubbing elbows with Texas’ literary elite
Shy by nature, authors, agents and literary hopefuls danced around each other at the Writers’ League of Texas reception on Friday. When anyone approached me at the Hyatt Regency Austin ballroom, it felt like an act of supreme will, the inner command: “I will be social!” It’s easy to empathize with this tribe of 200 or so, forced to market their talents. Still, they told scintillating stories. I spoke with a geneticist, a humanities dean, a literary publicist and a former journalist, among others. I predict columns will follow about more than one.
Over at the Carver Museum and Cultural Center that night, a few dozen folks gathered in the atrium, all-agog about the imminent arrival of Leonard Pitts Jr. In town for the African American Book Festival, Pitts has become a media celebrity by just doing his job, writing clear, reasoned and practical columns, syndicated and published in the American-Statesman. He graciously signed books and chatted with fans at the Links of Town Lake reception. Among my conversation-mates were chef Toni Tipton-Martin, illustrator Don Tate (a graphic artist for the Statesman), KLRU station director Bill Stotesbery, Links social star Gerry Tucker and Facebook chum Revlynn Lawson. Mere blocks away, the East Village opened to a jumbo, groovy party. Guests, most of them in the 20s, swarmed over the modernist building on East 11th Street that blends retail, office and residence spaces. Thanks to swarming social media by Taylor
Perkins (Rare) and Blake Shanley (East Village), hip met hâute, sampling food from area eateries and sipping local drinks to ward off the equatorial heat. (Hydrate, kids, hydrate.) The residences and rooftop offer sweet views of downtown and East Austin.
My final stop of the evening was M Two. This is the former Saba, which owner Joe
Reynolds has revised as a gay-themed restaurant and lounge. Why? Because it makes some sense to add a gay-friendly gathering place that’s not strictly a bar or club to the nightlife mix in the West Fourth Street area. Interestingly, the space above Cedar Street Courtyard opened in the 1990s as Soma, a gay-themed eatery. A chat with a young married gay couple from Santa Cruz, Calif., took me back to the Voices of Gay Austin survey and series that the American-Statesman ran in 2001. Among the findings: a yearning for gay restaurants. Well, guys and gals … it’s yours to use or lose.