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Austin is home to many independent businesses, but no one carries the torch of small business quite like BookPeople, a 52-year-old independent bookseller that claims the title of the largest of its kind in Texas. It still resides at just one highly praised location on North Lamar Boulevard, where it’s been since 1995, and there, it will host new and old friends to celebrate its anniversary on Friday, November 11.

Although it’s partially known for an unusually pleasant browsing experience — with a coffee shop, high effort displays for curated selections, and a truly gigantic inventory — BookPeople fits so snugly into the community by championing local and diverse authors. Most notably, it paired with the Austin Public Library in June on a banned book series, Banned Camp.

“The best part about this year is bringing those events back,” says CEO Charley Rejsek, reflecting on the revitalized calendar since pandemic shutdowns. “Everybody wants those experiences with authors that they know and love. We tried to translate them digitally, but that's really challenging. So having the events back and creating those experiences with readers and authors makes all the difference in the world.”

There’s no substitute for face-to-face connection, but the company’s Instagram page maintains its own outreach system, namely through several series including Gay Book of the Week, Sci-fi Friday, a BIPOC writer subscription box, and miscellaneous staff reviews. It puts out constant recommendations for all kinds of observances: Disability Pride Month, Voter Registration Day, Juneteenth, and more just in the past six months.

The anniversary festivities across the store’s three floors include book trivia, a raffle, a photo booth, and special merch sales. Book trivia is the main event, allowing participants to form teams to win $200 in BookPeople gift cards and $100 in CoffeePeople gift cards. The cafe will be open and serving a special-edition birthday drink.

Visitors get one raffle ticket at the door and can purchase more in hopes of winning signed books, posters, and even unreleased books. There will also be a silent art auction, selling pieces by local artists with all proceeds going back to the creator. A call for participating artists is active on the event page.

“BookPeople is definitely a community staple, and people look to us as a community gathering spot,” says Rejsek. “We, just like many other businesses, work hard to diversify our selection and the voices that we amplify, and that's just always ongoing. It never ends.”

The 52nd anniversary party will be held at BookPeople (603 N. Lamar Blvd.) on November 11, from 7-9 pm. More information about the event and BookPeople is available at bookpeople.com.

Photo by Daniel Hazard (http://u2start.com/photos/view/29157/)

ACL Fest’s Bonus Tracks presents Bono & Brené Brown in Conversation

ACL Fest’s Bonus Tracks will present Bono and Brené Brown in conversation. The researcher and author and U2 frontman and activist will discuss his new memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.

Each ticket includes admission to the event and a hardcover copy of Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.

Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

Ever-popular East Austin Lit Crawl sets the scene for Texas Book Festival

Reading Gone Rogue

Austinites crawling through that last book they picked up (you had such high hopes, and yet…) have a chance to renew their vigor for reading on Saturday, November 5.

Lit Crawl Austin, a free spinoff event of the Texas Book Festival, will take participants through a series of locations where they’ll enjoy the literary equivalent of a session IPA: a short story, a conversation, perhaps even an actual beer with a new bookish friend.

The crawl calls this its “12th year of irreverent literary programming,” which ranges from straight-up silliness to political activism, culminating in a closing celebration dedicated to banned books. Four locations — Vintage Bookstore and Wine Bar, Easy Tiger on East 7th Street, Hillside Farmacy, and Saddle Up — host at least two events each across the series, lasting four-and-a-half hours from start to finish.

The adventure begins at 5:30 pm at Vintage Bookstore and Wine Bar, with a happy hour and a recording of Hopeton Hay’s Diverse Voices Book Review podcast by KAZI 88.7 FM. The crawl closes at Saddle Up, where Tony Diaz, author of The Tip of The Pyramid: Cultivating Community Cultural Capital and leader of Librotraficantes (members of a movement of “book traffickers”), has curated a collection of words from banned books and the readers they informed and inspired.

There’s no shortage of readings at the Texas Book Festival, so the Lit Crawl offers some more improvisational events. A live episode of the podcast Literary Death Match, at Easy Tiger, pits four authors against each other in a twist on a traditional reading event interrupted by critiques and comedy. Hillside Farmacy hosts a large-scale, live version of a common writing exercise, passing a paper between participants writing one line at a time. At Saddle Up, a storytelling event inspired by The Moth asks authors at the festival to speak extemporaneously on the theme “On the Edge of Dreams.”

Unfortunately, since there is some overlap, crawlers will have to make a choice between some of the scheduled events. However, there are only 10 events, and since some are recordings, they will still be available after the festival ends. As any crawl would imply, the venues are also fairly close to each other; three of the venues are lined up within a third of a mile, with Easy Tiger about half a mile south.

More information about the Lit Crawl, including a full schedule and event descriptions, is available at texasbookfestival.org. The Texas Book Festival is also free to attend.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

BookPeople presents Phil Rosenthal: Somebody Feed Phil

An Evening with Phil Rosenthal of Somebody Feed Phil

Phil Rosenthal, host of the Netflix series Somebody Feed Phil, really loves food and learning about global cultures, and he makes sure to bring that passion to every episode of the show. Whether he’s traveling stateside to foodie-favorite cities such as San Francisco or New Orleans or around the world to locations like Saigon, Tel Aviv, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, or Marrakesh, Rosenthal includes a healthy dose of humor to every episode - and now to this book.

In Somebody Feed Phil the Book, Rosenthal presents never-before-heard stories from every episode of the first four seasons of the series, along with more than 60 of viewers’ most requested recipes from acclaimed international chefs and local legends alike. There are also “scripts” from some of Rosenthal’s video phone calls from the road with his family making this the ultimate companion guide for avid fans of the show as well as armchair travelers and adventurous at-home chefs.

Texas Book Festival presents A Conversation with Jacques Pépin

Texas Book Festival will present world-renowned chef and 16-time James Beard Award winner, Jacques Pépin, who will feature his newest book, Jacques Pépin: Art of the Chicken. The book celebrates his lifelong love of chickens, featuring dozens of his celebrated paintings and more than 50 recipes, along with a treasure trove of poignant and often humorous stories.

Tickets include one copy of the author’s book, priority seating at the session, and access to the book-signing personalization line.

Photo courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

The Paramount Theatre presents Quentin Tarantino: Cinema Speculation Book Tour

Author Quentin Tarantino will hold a multi-city book tour to celebrate the publication of Cinema Speculation, his non-fiction debut.

Cinema Speculation is organized around key American films from the 1970s, all of which Tarantino first saw as a young moviegoer. At once film criticism, film theory, a feat of reporting, and wonderful personal history, the audience will get a rare perspective about cinema possible only from Tarantino himself.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort

tilman goes laguna

Fans of Tilman Fertitta's nationwide hospitality brands are in for a treat. The Billion Dollar Buyer has just secured an award-winning, 30-acre resort in sunny Southern California.

Fertitta has purchased the acclaimed Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel, a premier beachfront property in the sunny SoCal getaway destination. Notably, the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel is one of only six hotels in the U.S. to score the Forbes Triple Five-Star hotel status. The Montage has also been included among Travel + Leisure’s Top Hotels in the World.

Image courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Fertitta's newest purchase overlooks the ocean in Laguna Beach.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta noted in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

Press materials didn't list the property purchase price, but Law360 reports that the deal is in excess of $660 million.

The Craftsman-style resort sits on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Impressive amenities are highlighted by the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, which offers eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio, and a lap pool.

More outdoor fun includes two pools and direct beach access, a museum-quality fine art collection, and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, per press materials.

Every resident space — the 260 guestrooms, including 60 suites, beach bungalow-style rooms, and multi-bedroom villas — boast stunning views of the Pacific.

Dining destinations offer chef-driven interpretations of coastal California flavors inspired by region. The property is designated and included in the distinctive Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“We are thrilled that Tilman is the new owner of this one-of-a-kind property and welcome him into the Montage family,” said Alan Fuerstman, founder, CEO, and chairman of Montage International. Mary Rogers, the Montage's GM added, “The staff is thrilled to be working with Tilman. Everyone here at the property is tremendously excited about his purchase and look forward to continuing to provide a world-class experience to all of our guests."

Aside from his palatial Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Fertitta also owns 14 other hotel properties around the country, including the award-winning San Luis Resort in Galveston, plus five popular Golden Nugget casino and hotel locations.

Another feather in Fertitta’s luxury portfolio cap is the iconic Huntting Inn, one of the most charming and historic locales in East Hampton, New York.

No stranger to California, Fertitta's presence there includes Catch Seafood and Catch Steak, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, The Palm, and more — all part of his 60 brands and more than 600 concepts nationwide.