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Webb Report: Lady Gaga popped up where you would least expect in Texas

Lady Gaga’s going through a bit of a country phase, you know. Her latest album, “Joanne,” features the singer wearing a pink cowgirl hat, right on the cover. There are a couple songs on the album with a bit of a Southern-fried flavor, if you squint your ears. And as her world tour swung through Texas last week, Gaga made herself right at home.

First stop: Houston. Gaga took some time before her concert in the Bayou City to help a Houstonian in need after Hurricane Harvey.

On Dec. 3, the singer posted photos and videos on her social media accounts of herself in a hazmat suit. Gaga’s nonprofit Born This Way Foundation teamed up with Team Rubicon, a disaster relief organization, to tear out water-damaged walls in the home of a woman named Pamela.

“’I got your ceiling Pam!’” Gaga captioned one post. “I love this woman. She is so strong!”

Next stop: Austin, for a Dec. 5 concert at the Frank Erwin Center. If the fleet of tour vehicles outside the arena wasn’t enough proof, reports by several people that Gaga ate a meal at an East Austin restaurant Dec. 4 were all but confirmation that the “Perfect Illusion” singer had arrived in the capital city. (That, and the clouds of glitter floating through the city.)

Several diners reported spotting the star at Justine’s Brasserie. According to some of those social media reports, Gaga was accompanied by her fiancé, Christian Carino.

  • “Here’s a picture of me and @ladygaga,” Instagram user @jonathanterrell_official wrote under a photo that was either Gaga or a cloud of black smoke (it’s very dark inside Justine’s). “She’s on a date but I know she’s prolly thinkin bout me.”
  • “So I’m in Austin bc I’m seeing Lady Gaga tomorrow and she’s sitting at the table across from me at dinner and I just swallowed my heart and can’t feel my toes and haven’t breathed in twenty minutes,” Twitter user @McCleezy posted.
  • “We were enjoying a lovely dinner at Justine’s earlier tonight when @ ladygaga walked in wearing a sparkly, white evening gown with her fiancé,” radio host Kristen Kurtis tweeted. “Her glamorous beauty was surreal. No one bothered her. Proud of you, # Austin.”

No word on whether Gaga went for the steak frites or Justine’s famed “Royale with Cheese” burger.

But wait! There’s more! Is there anything more in the spirit of the Live Music Capital than a music superstar showing up for a surprise gig at a mystery venue? Yes, probably! But folks still love it when that happens, like with previous stealth performances by Garth Brooks and the Killers. Add Gaga to the list.

After the “Million Reasons” singer blew the roof off of the Erwin Center, she stopped by Austin blues club Antone’s for an after-show, according to the singer and the venue on social media.

“This is where our party’s at tonight!” Gaga tweeted, in reference to a gig by her musical collaborator Brian Newman at Antone’s later in the night.

Yep, just like the American-Statesman’s Deborah Sengupta Stith called it, Gaga joined jazz musician Newman for some fun after her regularly scheduled arena spectacle. One attendee at the show told the Statesman that the singer stuck to standards and left and then returned to the stage a few times. According to KXAN, the singer’s repertoire included the song “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby,” which certainly would bring a little of the jazz she left out of her world tour show. Other videos of the performance included a rendition of Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.”

The venue posted on Instagram after the show, too: “What a night! Thanks to Brian Newman and his amazing band, AND, their surprise guest.”

Folks who caught the main show on Tuesday night might remember Gaga thanking Austin for letting her borrow our hat. She wore it well. From the look of her extracurricular activities, she definitely didn’t wear out her welcome.

— Eric Webb, Amanda O’Donnell and Maribel Molina, American-Statesman staff

Fries from FLOTUS

My Whataburger order: a No. 13 Whatachick’n three-piece. Regular ketchup, please. The spicy stuff gives me the hiccups. First lady Melania Trump’s order at Whataburger? Well, we can confirm it includes fries, which is not something we could say until now.

That’s right: Trump, along with second lady Karen Pence, traveled to Texas on Wednesday to visit with first responders and check on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. And if there’s anything politicians (or in this case, politicians’ spouses) love to do when they’re on a visit, it’s make a stop at a purveyor of local cuisine. Trump and Pence flew through Corpus Christi, which means Whataburger.

According to social media reports, the first and second lady stopped by the venerable Texas burger chain and walked out with at least some of those famous fries for the press waiting in vans outside.

“On our way out of town, @ FLOTUS & @ SecondLady decided to stop in to @ Whataburger for some lunch!” the first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, tweeted with a picture of Trump at the counter. “The American chain opened its 1st restaurant in Corpus Christi, TX in 1950!”

Officials in Texas approved.

  • “Looks like @ FLOTUS is Texas savvy,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted. “She & Karen Pence dined at @ Whataburger today with my wife the First Lady of Texas.”
  • “Even @ FLOTUS can’t leave Corpus Christi without @ Whataburger, a hometown classic!” the City of Corpus Christi’s official Twitter account tweeted. “Grab one for the flight back!”
  • ”@ Flotus knows a good burger,” according to the Corpus Christi Police Department on Twitter.

The orange and the white, as ever, proved to be a unifying force.

Basically a Hallmark movie

When a group of Austinites walked into Joe’s Bakery on East Seventh Street on Wednesday morning, they thought they’d be enjoying a few breakfast tacos and a steaming hot cup of joe on a chilly morning. What they didn’t realize was that they’d get an uplifting story of hope, positivity and holiday cheer.

Tareen Alam was grabbing breakfast with her coworker, a graphic designer at Bumble, and George Resch (aka Tank Sinatra, aka the man behind Tank’s Good News, a popular Instagram account) when the group was approached by a woman who handed out Christmas cards to the entire restaurant.

The cards were addressed “To my neighbor and family.” Alam said they are a tradition for the woman, whose son had a kidney transplant years ago. The woman told Alam that she and her son “had an outlook of looking up and spreading joy despite any setback.”

The woman told Alam she’s been handing out the cards for years — so many years, she couldn’t even remember when she started doing it.

“Every year she buys all the Christmas cards after the holidays at a discount,” Alam said. “She couldn’t find many this year but still came into Joe’s with a huge bag full and passed them out.”

Alam said she has the woman’s address, and she’s looking into sending along empty cards and address stickers for her to use in the future.

“They had a remarkable story and sense of positivity,” she said.

— Katey Psencik, American-Statesman staff

Ya filthy animals

We’re now well into December, which means it’s socially acceptable to start watching those holiday films you love so much. Watching Christmas and holiday movies is an American institution — so far this year there have been at least three holiday releases in theaters, not to mention what’s coming to Netflix this month.

But while you may have a personal favorite Christmas movie, do you know what Texas’ favorite Christmas movie is? just put together an infographic map culling data on the top-rated holiday movies from viewers of the AMC channel. That data was then cross-referenced with Google Trends state data from the past 10 years to see which movies were most likely to have been seen in those states.

Texas’ favorite is the 1990 home invasion comedy “Home Alone,” starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. We’re in good company, as Oregon, North Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois (where the film is set), Louisiana, Georgia, Florida (where part of “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” is set), Washington, D.C., and Virginia shared the same fave.

“Die Hard” did not make this list, which is just plain wrong.

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff

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