Austin in print

  • There was South by Southwest coverage galore. Some print outfits offered accounts by multiple journalists (e.g., NYT). So far, though, I’ve happened across not much that seemed like genuine enthusiasm. An exception would be the WSJ of March 24, wherein reporter Jim Fusilli (“Where SXSW Points Talent“) says that he loved Austin’s own Band of Heathens, giving the group credit for “the best set I came across during my five nights in town.” Fustilli tweeted from Austin.
  • An outpouring of generosity organized by the local AustinMama community was highlighted in today’s NYT (“Helping out With Cash: A Delicate Art,” byline Ron Lieber). A family with a seriously ill baby and few healthcare resources has been amazed by the support from this local on-line group of caring parents who’ve been known to charge into action as benefactors IRL, as in this case.
  • An Austin-area Voting Rights Act case has attracted national attention and much has been written about it, both as news and as analysis. The best writing that I’ve seen about how this case arose, why it was taken to the Supreme Court and how, and what the issues are is to be found in today’s WSJ (“A Showdown on Voting Rights,” byline Jess Bravin). Note the little remark on how it was that Austin went from single-member districts to an at-large city council. Here’s coverage by the local daily upon the issuance of a writ of certiorari (January 10, 2009; byline Chuck Lindell). The case was originally entitled Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Mukasey and is now v. Holder (08-322). The current Court docket sets this for oral argument on April 29.
  • Austin stars in How Perfect Is That, a novel of social comedy and manners written by our own Sarah Bird. I don’t buy many books these days, and this one’s been constantly checked out from the library, so I only recently caught up with it. I know that Sarah Bird has a national following, but I always wonder what outlanders make of specific references to aspects of Albuquerque (in the case of The Flamenco Academy) or Austin (in this case). Although she sets it as occurring in April, not our current waning days of March, the author offers a wonderful appreciation of the arrival of spring foliage as we see our local trees bursting forth in blossoms and leaves. She pays special tribute to those crispy oysters with yucca root chips on the menu at Jeffrey’s. And one of her composite characters, an earnest and saintly sort, gets about via recumbent bicycle, reminding one of a certain sometimes columnist for the Wheatsville Breeze, frequent writer of letters to the Chron, and former candidate for city council (initials “AB”).
  • One series of accounts from SXSW that I’ve particularly enjoyed appears to be destined for an on-line existence only, but it would be a shame for anyone to overlook these brief takes from some fine folks reporting for The New Yorker magazine.

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