Monday, April 20, 2015

Dinner Salons

An Italian invention of the 16th century, a salon is defined by Wiki as “a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.” Famous 20th century salons include those of Mabel Dodge with Georgia O'Keeffe and D. H. Lawrence in Greenwich Village in NYC, Gertrude Stein who regularly hosted Picasso and Hemingway in Paris, and Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and many more, who congregated at the Chelsea Hotel, again in NYC. Crouse and I have hosted some awesome dinner salons recently. These are not particularly great photos, but the guests make the salon and these guests are the best of the best!
(Left to Right) The Honorable Orlinda Naranjo is the presiding judge of the 419th District Court (since 2006). She is originally from New Mexico where she earned her law degree from The University of New Mexico. She is involved in a number of philanthropic organizations and has received a number of honors for that work. She and her husband Jim live on Lake Travis, have a beautiful ranch home in Northern New Mexico, and have two daughters and twin granddaughters. Jim Ewbank is who you would call if you needed to hire a smart bulldog lawyer. Yet he is a gentle father to his two daughters, Alena and McLean, a loving, playful “Pop” to his twin granddaughters, and he’s most comfortable in camouflage or shorts. Loralee Martin is who I want to be when I grow up. She’s a former restaurant owner and chef, and now the glue that holds life together for a power couple here in town whose name you would recognize, but which I cannot divulge. She is also a New York transplant, a serious paddle boarder and my go-to person when I want to know what is cool! Harriett Kirsh Pozen is the most endearing person you will ever meet. She was the mastermind behind the Dell Jewish Center and knows every person in Austin. She is also a well-known music aficionado, frequenting SXSW and other such FAB events.  She has a BA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Fayruz Benyousef is one of those people that everyone knows, mostly because she’s so genuine and smart, but also because she has been a fundraising kingpin in many local and national philanthropic efforts. She is a graduate of Dickinson College, has her own development consulting business, and she and her husband Malek have a daughter. In addition to being Fayruz’s husband, Malek Ben-Musa is a former professional soccer player turned coach that has been a part of the Austin soccer scene since 1999. Malek is THE designated cook, making delectable North Africa and the Mediterranean dishes. He also loves to fish and travel the world with his family and friends (and he’s a Star Wars freak)!

(Left to Right) Linda Ball & Forrest Preece: Linda Ball casually says she has been retired from computer programming for more than 12 years and "follows along with Forrest in his charity pursuits.” However I believe she was a pioneer in the computer industry in the days when there really were very few women involved in technology. Now Linda enjoys playing tennis three times a week (doubles with mostly 50+ women) weather permitting, and enjoys downtown dining and drinking and walking from the vantage point of their 360 condo at 3rd and Nueces. Forrest has been retired for almost 10 years from running a full-service advertising and PR firm but is now quite busy writing a twice-monthly column in the West Austin News, and with his board positions with Ballet Austin and the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is also an active supporter of the Pease Park Conservancy and the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation, is an officer of Knights of the Vine, and he and Linda recently joined the advisory council of UT's Butler School of Music. In his spare time, Forrest pursues "the travel and leisure one promises oneself in retirement.” Linda Benjamin & Butch Miles: Originally from Indiana, Linda moved to Seguin in 1996 to become development officer with Texas Lutheran University.  In 2001 she became chief development officer for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Texas Council on Family Violence. After a few years as a nonprofit consultant, she and her husband Butch retired in Buda. Well, actually Linda retired, Butch, who says he’ll never retire from his life’s calling--music, hails originally from West Virginia but lived in New York and Albuquerque before moving to Austin.  In the early 70s, Butch left his position as Mel Torme’s drummer and was hired personally by Count Basie. After many years on the road working with jazz legends, Butch began teaching jazz at Texas State in 2007.  He continues to perform internationally and pursue the new musical love of his life, teaching and mentoring the next great jazz drummers. Linda says she loves the people, food, and soaring spirit of this part of Texas and never wants to live anywhere else. Sarah Bird & George Jones: Sarah says, "George, the son of a printer, was a picker, stomper, sucker and a baler in his early teen years. (Extra points if you can guess where he worked.) After an engineering career in the public sector focused on water projects for small towns and border colonias, he moved to the private sector. His final project was the design of a municipal pool and park for Eldorado, home of the infamous FLDS’s Yearning for Zion Ranch. Sarah is still grumpy that he didn’t bring home a sister wife. One who loved cooking and washing windows. He’s now pursuing interests in the rock art of pre-historic Texans, traveling, and being a groupie for jazz trumpeter Jeff Lofton." In addition to being a smart-ass (in the most favorable way possible), completely hilarious and a word magician, Sarah is an award winning and critically acclaimed writer (Above The East China Sea, The Gap Year, Yokota Officers Club, Alamo House – and much more). She has been part of Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great Writers series, a Dobie-Paisano Fellow; a National Magazine Award and Illumine Award for Excellence in Fiction winner; an inductee into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame; a Moth Radio Hour storyteller, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  And the dude in the background? That's our magnificent chef, Roy Daley.

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