Michael Barnes

Social columnist

Michael Barnes writes about Austin's people, places, culture and history. He also writes the Out and About social column and blog.

Latest from Michael Barnes

After 65 years, the Frisco will close up shop on Burnet Road
 Ralph Campbell, 80, has eaten regularly at the Frisco Shop since it opened in 1953 at Koenig Lane and Burnet Road. On Thursday, he lunched at the casual diner with his wife, granddaughter and three great-granddaughters, probably for the last time, since the Frisco, now at its second location at 6801 Burnet Road, will close its doors for good...

Posted: a day ago

Ralph Campbell, 80, has eaten regularly at the Frisco Shop since it opened in 1953 at Koenig Lane and Burnet Road. On Thursday, he lunched at the casual diner with his wife, granddaughter and three great-granddaughters, probably for the last time, since the Frisco, now at its second location at 6801 Burnet Road, will close its doors for good...
Large-scale painting of Klan members unveiled at UT
 While he was working at a San Antonio movie theater as a youth, Vincent Valdez stepped outside into the abrupt chaos of protesters and counterprotesters in Alamo Plaza. That was when he came face to face with a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, hooded but unmasked. “We stared at each other for what seemed like minutes,” artist...

Posted: 2 days ago

While he was working at a San Antonio movie theater as a youth, Vincent Valdez stepped outside into the abrupt chaos of protesters and counterprotesters in Alamo Plaza. That was when he came face to face with a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, hooded but unmasked. “We stared at each other for what seemed like minutes,” artist...
Historian Kyle Longley named director of LBJ Presidential Library
 The archivist of the United States has named distinguished historian Kyle Longley as only the fifth director of the LBJ Presidential Library since it opened in 1971. An expert on U.S. foreign policy and modern American politics, Longley has written numerous books, including his most recent, “LBJ’s 1968: Power, Politics and the...

Posted: 2 days ago

The archivist of the United States has named distinguished historian Kyle Longley as only the fifth director of the LBJ Presidential Library since it opened in 1971. An expert on U.S. foreign policy and modern American politics, Longley has written numerous books, including his most recent, “LBJ’s 1968: Power, Politics and the...
From the photo vault: Summer fun at the lake in old Austin
 So many readers liked our first foray into the 
            old Austin photo vaults for memories of summer fun, we decided to dive in again. This time we look at the evolution of lake life. A group of four women in a boat feed a flock of white ducks on a lake in Hyde Park. One could date this scene any time between
               1890 and...

Posted: 3 days ago

So many readers liked our first foray into the old Austin photo vaults for memories of summer fun, we decided to dive in again. This time we look at the evolution of lake life. A group of four women in a boat feed a flock of white ducks on a lake in Hyde Park. One could date this scene any time between 1890 and...
In 1979, hard-living Oscar winner Broderick Crawford lit up St. Ed’s
 Longtime photojournalist 
            Robert Godwin has been going through his archives to rescue an abundance of Austin history. This arresting image catches Hollywood actor 
            Broderick Crawford, who won an Academy Award in 1949 for his role as populist politician 
            Willie Stark in “All...

Posted: 5 days ago

Longtime photojournalist  Robert Godwin has been going through his archives to rescue an abundance of Austin history. This arresting image catches Hollywood actor  Broderick Crawford, who won an Academy Award in 1949 for his role as populist politician Willie Stark in “All...
Austin grackle wars rage on with hawks, lasers and loud noises
 What repels a plague of grackles? Loud noises. Lasers. Hawks. At least for a while. During the 1980s, grackles roosted in great numbers among the sheltering coastal live oaks planted on the University of Texas campus by late Regent Lutcher Stark, namesake for the Stark Center for Physical Culture, located at the north end of Royal-Memorial...

Posted: 7 days ago

What repels a plague of grackles? Loud noises. Lasers. Hawks. At least for a while. During the 1980s, grackles roosted in great numbers among the sheltering coastal live oaks planted on the University of Texas campus by late Regent Lutcher Stark, namesake for the Stark Center for Physical Culture, located at the north end of Royal-Memorial...
Is it a grackle?
 In order to identify Austin’s two main species of grackles, the “great-tailed” and the “common” varieties, one must first distinguish them from other somewhat similar, dark birds. European starling. The visual giveaway here is not the specks of yellow on the feathers, which are sometimes absent, but rather...

Posted: 7 days ago

In order to identify Austin’s two main species of grackles, the “great-tailed” and the “common” varieties, one must first distinguish them from other somewhat similar, dark birds. European starling. The visual giveaway here is not the specks of yellow on the feathers, which are sometimes absent, but rather...
Grackles aren’t the boss of Austin bird feeders
 Grackles are not the only large, irritating birds who make Austin home. In fact, one can observe two others — the American crow and the monk parakeet — making just as much noise while gathering in smaller but nevertheless assertive flocks. There’s a certain crucial backyard hierarchy at work here, as observed behind our...

Posted: 7 days ago

Grackles are not the only large, irritating birds who make Austin home. In fact, one can observe two others — the American crow and the monk parakeet — making just as much noise while gathering in smaller but nevertheless assertive flocks. There’s a certain crucial backyard hierarchy at work here, as observed behind our...
Our 2 kinds of Austin grackles come with 5 different looks
 Austin is home to two main grackle species, the common grackle and the — ironically — much more common great-tailed grackle. These two species, however, wear five different looks: two male, two female and one juvenile. We’ll start off with the descriptions found on All About Birds, the popular and easy to use website (allaboutbirds...

Posted: 10 days ago

Austin is home to two main grackle species, the common grackle and the — ironically — much more common great-tailed grackle. These two species, however, wear five different looks: two male, two female and one juvenile. We’ll start off with the descriptions found on All About Birds, the popular and easy to use website (allaboutbirds...
How Austin became a birder mecca
 Why do birders flock to Austin? A good deal of the attraction can be attributed to the city’s birding community, its geography and its love of nature rather than just its warblers, hawks, mockingbirds and, yes, grackles. With four distinct ecosystems nearby and an active, curious community of people, the Travis Audubon Society is thriving...

Posted: 11 days ago

Why do birders flock to Austin? A good deal of the attraction can be attributed to the city’s birding community, its geography and its love of nature rather than just its warblers, hawks, mockingbirds and, yes, grackles. With four distinct ecosystems nearby and an active, curious community of people, the Travis Audubon Society is thriving...
Unhappy twist: O. Henry’s Austin honeymoon cottage went up in flames
 Reader Susan Wukasch writes: “I found an old paper from October 2016 and I read your Austin Found column about houses being moved, so I decided I’d ask you about the O. Henry House.” As a child, Wukasch remembered being told that the famous author’s house had been moved from its original site to a place on Shoal Creek...

Posted: 13 days ago

Reader Susan Wukasch writes: “I found an old paper from October 2016 and I read your Austin Found column about houses being moved, so I decided I’d ask you about the O. Henry House.” As a child, Wukasch remembered being told that the famous author’s house had been moved from its original site to a place on Shoal Creek...