Rub­bing el­bows with Texas’ lit­er­ary elite

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & STYLE - MICHAEL BARNES mbarnes@states­

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.

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