COLORS AND SHAPES FLASH AND ZOOM across computer screens in a dim, wall-less office that looks like a nerd’s rec room. In one corner sits a somewhat unusual private conference space: a blue Geo with a small refrigerator and a coffeemaker in the hatchback and a phone next to the driver’s seat. Nearby, a table tennis table does double-duty as a conference table.
CELEBRITY HANGS IN THE AIR almost forever. This is particularly true when that celebrity is connected with money. Even though it has been more than a decade since his daring raids on Wall Street landed his photograph on the covers of Time and Fortune and made his company millions of dollars, Boone Pickens on a recent Tuesday night was still a presence in a smart restaurant in Dallas.
THERE’S A PHOTOGRAPH TED BAUER likes to show people who ask about the humble beginnings of his investment company, AIM Management Group. It’s a blurry snapshot of him and co-founder Gary Crum sitting in an empty office in the Marathon Building in downtown Houston in 1976. “The telephone didn’t work,” 78-year-old Bauer recalls. “Those are Gary’s chairs, and that’s my card table. That was about it.
Tilman Fertitta came home to Galveston last November to deliver the oratorical equivalent of a belly flop in the punch bowl. Speaking to the city’s business leaders at a chamber of commerce luncheon, the wealthy 39-year-old Houston-based restaurateur mesmerized them with his cut-the-crap rhetoric. “I’ve been to forty-four states in the last few years,” Fertitta said, adding that as a tourist center, Galveston was “definitely lagging behind all the other areas I’ve visited. We don’t have amusement parks.
Calling all rich liberals: the Texas Observer needs you. The 43-year-old biweekly—the last bastion of Lone Star left-wingery—is on the brink of collapse. Okay, okay, you’ve been hearing that for 43 years. But this time it’s true, and it could happen as soon as June.
In the youth-oriented world of Web page designers, calling someone young is really saying something—but these guys are young. Before any of them is old enough to drink, in fact, the cyberwunderkinder who run two-year-old Zero Factor Interactive (ZFI) have garnered an impressive roster of clients, including Who bassist John Entwistle and frogdesign, the company that designed Apple’s first computers, including the Macintosh.
WITHIN EASY BICYCLING DISTANCE of each other in Central Austin are two Schlotzsky’s sandwich shops. One is a tidy, low-ceilinged space in a venerable cluster of stores on South Congress. It is so small—six hundred square feet—that the word “cozy” seems a wild exaggeration.
CONFIRMATION THAT MODERN-DAY American revolutions take place at the checkout counter came in October, with the opening of the Austin Hemp Company—the fifth Texas business devoted solely to selling products made from hemp, the plant that in its smokable form is also known as marijuana. Half a dozen other stores around the state also sell hemp products, and no wonder: Sales have been increasing by more than 20 percent a year.
In Texas the ultimate arbiter of good taste has always been Neiman Marcus, the Dallas-based department store that marks its ninetieth birthday next year. Neiman’s is known for the high quality of its apparel and jewelry and its unusual assortment of gifts and goodies, which shine most brightly in the store’s annual Christmas catalog. Every year the slick wish- book wows shoppers, particularly with the traditional His and Her gifts, which gently spoof Texas excess.
THE FOUR THOUSAND FANS who filled the Austin Music Hall for Bob Dylan’s two performances in October can thank the state’s premier concert promoter, Pace Entertainment, for bringing the rock legend to Texas for the second time in twelve months. Of course, they paid for the privilege—a top ticket price of $50, as a matter of fact. But hey, we’re talking Bob Dylan here!