Each issue Citygram asks influential Austinites what they’re into. Read on to see picks from Matt Bearden, Devon Broglie, Taylor Bruce, Shea Little, Kendra Scott and Isadora McKeon this month.
I’m a big fan of uncomfortable moments on screen. The more cringe-sweat the better. No one does it better than the Channel 4 hit, Peep Show, starring made-for-each-other comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Think Michael Scott or Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm, only more. It’s a bonus that British television standards allow characters to act like actual humans — they make mistakes, they have sex, they do drugs. There are eight seasons streaming right now (Netflix, Hulu) and a ninth is rumored forthcoming.
Bonus: Looking for something just as clever but a better couple’s watch? Try Gavin & Stacey (Amazon Prime) for the same great sensibility, just less cringe and a bit more sentimental romance. Plus, it stars the hilarious James Cordon, who takes over for Craig Ferguson next spring.
Chef Massimo Bottura
The famed Italian Chef Massimo Bottura recently stopped through Austin to say hi to his (and my) good friend Cathy Strange, Whole Foods Market Global Cheese Buyer, and to promote and sign his recent book Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef. I am, obviously, a passionate wine guy and I also love to cook. Sixty percent of the books I own are cookbooks, and I am always purchasing cookbooks by chefs I love. I love this book because it is a beautifully complex telling of a familiar old story. Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef is so much more than a cookbook. Massimo is both a chef and an artist. He is inspired by life and the art that it imitates, or perhaps it’s the other way around. The book has autobiographical, photomontage, and existential storytelling elements – and it’s the most amazing, imaginative and non-traditional cookbook ever created.
The first 260 pages are not recipes, but instead, stories of how ingredients came together to make dish after spectacular dish. Then, the last 30 pages are dedicated to the actual recipes, which read more like a glossary, as if looking at the recipe in the back should be a last resort, cheating, giving up. It is clear the chef’s intention is to ignite passion and inspire experimentation so much more than to show step-by-step how to execute a recipe like paint-by-numbers. I highly recommend this book to any food enthusiast, and challenge any cook to find inspiration in the stories before trying to simply replicate a recipe.
I worked in magazines for the better part of ten years. There’s a unique pleasure in grabbing a few new glossies at an airport. GQ, Fast Company, AFAR, Vanity Fair. I love so many. I also carry huge admiration for the weekly magazine published by The New York Times, now led by former Austinite Jake Silverstein. In that vein, my newest favorite magazine is a soon-to-be weekly. It’s called The California Sunday Magazine. A small crew of brilliant editors, writers and designers launched it last month, and their stories from the West capture so much of American culture and heritage. In a time that many think of as a new magazine renaissance, The California Sunday Magazine carries as bright a torch as any.
One local artist I’m most interested in is Katalena Hernandez Cowles. I’ve seen her art for a while. She’s very involved as an advocate and a philanthropist for the arts, and she also combines classical singing with her performance practice. I came across her through her Lullaby Project performance at Co-Lab, but I had known of her before she started producing her formative pieces.
With Lullaby Project, she sings lullabies to an audience as they lay their heads down. A year ago, she did the TreatSuit (shown above) for the East Austin Studio Tour. She wore this puffy suit with zippers and put treats in them and invited strangers to pick them out of her pockets. I helped her get into her suit, and she encouraged people to go stick your hand in her pocket and pull out these little tchotchkes – things that make you smile. What she’s doing is engaging with an audience and encouraging people to get into intimate situations. She’s not intending for it to be uncomfortable. She wants to break down the barriers we put up, and she creates an opportunity for more engagement on a different level.
This year she did an extension of that during E.A.S.T. with the Comfort Station at Fisterra Studios. She provided comfort during the tour by giving hugs, putting on Band-Aids for people, and being a kind, motherly figure.
Lifeworks is a cause that means so much to me because it aids children and families in crisis by helping bring them the success they need for a brighter future. As a mother, I firmly believe that all children deserve to have someone in their life who believes in them, and that’s what LifeWorks does.
I have been on the executive board of LifeWorks for a number of years, and am co-founder of LEAP for LifeWorks, benefitting LifeWorks Austin. My company and I know that there is no greater joy than giving back to our community, and we love spreading that value through our efforts with LifeWorks.
Listening to this album makes me feel like I’m traveling in some distant country or parallel universe. It’s dreamy and psychedelic and feels like it has one foot in another era. The instrumentation is fantastic, from the horn section to the shredding guitar moments; and there’s a synthesis of a bunch of different musical influences – Texas, Africa, ’60s soul, ‘70s disco, outer space. All things I love.
Golden Dawn Arkestra is a great backdrop for doing projects around the house. I end up dancing around and chores seem less tedious. My husband and I have occasionally been known to return home from a night out, turn the living room lights off and have a dance party for two, and there are a couple of tracks on this album that definitely make that playlist lately. But really, I would say that seeing them live is absolutely the best context for listening to them. At our Trans-Pecos Festival at El Cosmico in Marfa last month, they played an after-party that was almost a religious experience. They wear all kinds of crazy costumes and put on a memorable show. All of my coworkers and friends were moshing about in a frenzied dance freakout. Everyone was high on the music; it was totally great.
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