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Archive for June, 2012

A Magic Bus Ride into Wheatsville’s Future

June 26, 2012 3 comments

This article was published first in the July/August 2012 issue of the Wheatsville Breeze newspaper. I served on the Wheatsville Co-op’s board of directors from 1994 to 2009 – most years as board chair. During that time our board adopted policy governance, oversaw Wheatsville’s 2008-09 renovation, helped mentor Black Star Co-op’s birth a few miles north of us and – most notably – hired GM Dan Gillotte.

Words and Photos Bob Kinney

Wheatsville staffers and board members gathered in our parking lot after the store closed at 11pm on May 24 to see where our co-op is headed.

Eighty-eight folks settled into two charter buses for a ride to Wheatsville’s second store location with hardly any of us knowing where we were going.

It was such a Wheatsville Moment. While other stores would announce such news via media and then staff let know, our WV event planning team wanted the folks who make our co-op run every day to know ahead of the general public where the second Wheatsville would be.

Thanks to GM Dan Gillotte, Beth Ley, Human Resources Manager, and Raquel Dadomo, Brand Manager, for planning such a fun and historic moment in Wheatsville’s 36-year history.

As our bus headed south and crossed Lady Bird Lake it was obvious our new location would be in South Austin. For decades scores of 78704 owners have urged Wheatsville to open a South store (Hey to my former board colleague Jane Cravey and other 78704-ers).

During my service as Wheatsville’s board chair, the Travis Heights Neighborhood Association, for example, wanted us to open a store in what now houses the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar. The location was too pricey for us at the time.

Gathering onto the buses at Wheatsville – Bus One below On The Road

Arriving at the new location – thanks to Bus One Driver Emilio Vasquez who worked at Wheatsville in the early 1980s

Peeking inside

Back to the Magic Midnight Bus Ride – Niki Nash, Merchandising Manager, and Beth Ley were captains of Bus One and Two, respectively. Emilio Vasquez, our Bus One driver, told Niki he worked for Wheatsville in the early 1980s. What a Nice Co-op Circle!

Our bus passed the Broken Spoke and a few blocks later turned east and then entered behind an enormous building. We came around in front of the building and there we were – the new home for Wheatsville in the Lamar Oaks Plaza at 4001 South Lamar and Highway 290.

What a Perfect Location! The building is about double the size of our Guadalupe space with a seeming ocean of parking around it and a bus stop in front. While 4001 Wheatsville will serve folks now living in South Austin, we will welcome the thousands of new residents in five condo/apartment complexes being built along South Lamar from the Alamo Drafthouse to the Broken Spoke.

Bus riders gathered in front of our new store as midnight approached and heard Dan Gillotte and Rose Marie Klee, co-op board chair, speak of how Wheatsville is headed in a BIG (Business Is Good) Direction.

The party ended with folks waving 10-inch-long sparklers that transformed night darkness around us into a Wonderland of Light – Just the beginning of Wheatsville growing a cooperative glow in South Austin. 78704 – Here We Come!

Surrounded by Staff, GM Dan Gillotte links new location to Wheatsville’s BIG Direction – followed by Rose Marie Klee, board chair

Wheatsville’s visionary and linkage-friendly Board of Directors

Words and Photos Bob Kinney

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John Fullbright is Full Bright

June 22, 2012 2 comments

Bob Kinney Words and Photos

After experiencing John Fullbright for the first time on June 21 here in Austin at Threadgill’s, I am left wondering how this mid-20s singer-songwriter-three instrument musician can be such a keen observer of human life and then craft songs with an aged wisdom that’s based on his experiences while he was growing up in Okemah – that’s naturally in Oklahoma – where some 600 other folks live and first saw him perform in high school eight years ago – just like their grandparents experienced the power of sung justice when their neighbor Woody Guthrie picked up his Guitar That Kills Fascists and sang his songs of truth as Oklahoma was forced westward.

As I post this … Okemah folks now await WoodyFest – their local celebration of Woody & Friends’ music every mid-July closet to Woody’s birthday where – at the Woody family’s insistence before the fest’s first show in 1998 – no tickets are sold for the five-day annual event. So many musicians have played for free to honor Woody over the years.

Woody never charged a cover for decades as he traveled across and up and down our country during cruel times where most everyone was trying to figure out how to get through the Great Depression somehow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Besides, Woody, other likely Fullbright influences come to mind – fellow Oklahomans Leon Russell and Ray Wylie Hubbard – Kris Kristofferson – John Prine – David Bromberg – Jimmy Webb – James McMurtry –

and, of course – Townes, David Olney and Warren Zevon.

Grounded in these folks and many others, Fullbright’s songs offer hints of a particular songwriter while singing his own words in a personally unique and welcoming way.

Fullbright’s songs are heartfelt – homey – oddly quirky – epiphaniac – tragic and comic.

Each is sung in a voice that is deftly tuned and sounds as wide as Oklahoma prairie.

Fullbright deftly plays piano, harmonica and guitar in many styles – nuanced, rockin’ and soulful. Harmonica blasts of wonder, varied and precise piano styles and nifty guitar tradeoffs with another Oklahoman Terry “Buffalo” Ware who once played in Ray Wylie’s band. David Leach, upright bass, and Giovanni Carnucci, drums, play superb and know how to fuse focus and smiles. It’s evident all four enjoy playing together on stage. “We don’t rehearse much,” Fullbright confided.

Fullbright credits these and other musicians in the “Thanks To” section as he concludes his album credits in the album’s mini-booklet.

“And last but certainly not least to all the Oklahoma musicians and mentors that gave me the strength and confidence to use my own voice.”

 Please listen to Fullbright’s debut album – “From the Ground Up” – on his nicely-designed website – JohnFullbrightMusic.com – and then buy it.

You can find a detailed tour list stretching into this fall on the website.

Hope you can experience John Fullbright soon.

Bob Kinney Words and Photos

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Adios for Now, Clinton Pena

June 7, 2012 3 comments

Friends of Clinton Pena gathered in Clark’s backyard in Austin on June 7, 2012, to remember and honor their friend who died way too early without any of us having the moment to say Goodbye.

The somberly magical memorial service was created by Carla, Clark and Olivia whose lives were infused – as were many other staffers – by Clinton when he worked checking out folks at Wheatsville Food Co-op. Carla created a wondrously welcoming altar for Clinton that friends filled up with candles, flowers, photos and other art, and bits and pieces of loving remembrance.

Parties at Clark’s house are usually marked by a creative wildness where anything goes and usually does. Tonight – with its tears, hugs and fondly-told Clinton stories – was very much unlike what Clark’s backyard usually sees – and, in a nice way, very much like it, too.

Words & Memorial Photos by Bob Kinney


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