CALL FOR INDEPENDENCE

CALL FOR INDEPENDENCE

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum Foundation Hosts Texas Independence Day Dinner

By Rob Giardinelli             Photography by Chris Caselli and Thao Nguyen

THE SETTING:  The Bob Bullock Museum Texas State History Museum in Austin was the recent setting of the 16th annual Texas Independence Day Dinner. Over 350 of the state’s most notable sociables, dignitaries and philanthropists were on hand to celebrate the indomitable Texas spirit by honoring Texans who have made their mark in solidifying the Lone Star state as the dynamic place we call home.

 

THE STYLE:  The excitement for the evening was brimming even before patrons stepped into the Bullock, where partygoers received the red carpet treatment posing for photos against a lush, green backdrop framed by a Texas Lone Star. Once inside, revelers headed up the grand staircase of the Bullock for a lively cocktail hour where old friends from all corners of the state reacquainted, and new friendships were established.

The action then moved downstairs to the atrium of the Bullock for the evening’s program. As guests dined on a multicourse meal, they were treated to moving video tributes of each of the honorees. The first honoree, James Allison, Ph.D., won the Nobel Prize for his innovative discoveries in treating cancer. The second honorees were art and art education advocates and philanthropists, Edith and Peter O’Donnell, Jr. As the festivities ended, each person fortunate enough to be a part of such a special evening, left the event with a sense of pride in knowing how Texans positively impact the world in such diverse ways.

 

THE PURPOSE:  The gala, chaired by Lynn McBee, with Jan Bullock serving as honorary chair, raised over $810,000 for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum’s educational programs and special projects. Each year the  Bullock Museum welcomes over 90,000 field trip participants throughout the state of Texas, plus an additional 16,000 students through distance learning programs.

ITALIAN STALLION

ITALIAN STALLION

Like many exotic things, The Alfa Romeo 4C is impractically perfect. According to our automotive enthusiast editor, Michael Satterfield, who takes it for a spin for a few, beautiful hours and turns heads with the cars stunning good looks.

PIACERE DI CONOSCERTI

Let’s face it: the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is a car I wanted to drive since it was first introduced at the New York International Auto Show in 2014. With its carbon-fiber chassis, stunning good looks, and turbocharged Italian soundtrack, it ticks all the boxes. However, with just a few hundred a year sold in the US, getting my hands on one required calling in a favor. For the next few hours, it would be me, the 4C, and some backroads around Austin’s Lake Travis.

Getting in and out of the 4C requires a little practice, the ultra-wide sills from the carbon fiber monocoque and the low seating position means you must contort your body just right. Once you learn the process, it becomes a little more natural, and is much easier once you remove the roof, and I do mean remove the roof. Unlike most modern convertible sportscars, the 4C Spider’s roof doesn’t disappear at the touch of a button. It’s not a slick multipiece hardtop like the Mazda MX-5 RF or even a traditional soft-top like you find on the new Porsche 718 Spyder. No, Alfa decided to make a soft TTarga that has six latches and, when stowed in the trunk, takes up nearly all the 3.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Seeing as most people are buying a 4C Spider as a second, third, or even fourth car, I assume the top comes off and rarely goes back on.

With the top off, I get behind the wheel for some canyon carving and start the engine. This car is equipped with the optional Akrapovic Dual Mode Center Mounted Exhaust, which enhances what was already a great sounding car with just the factory exhaust. I select the drive mode and take off along the closest thing Texas has to Costa Brava, Lime Creek Road. Echoing off the hillside, the 4C sounds like a supercar, even though it has a diminutive 1.7-liter four-cylinder that only produces 237hp, and it just doesn’t feel quick―it is quick. It’s Formula 1 inspired carbon fiber chassis is stiff and this car with optional 235/35R19 rear tires has seemingly limitless grip.

MI CHIAMO ITALIANO

It is still Italian, so the expected eccentricity becomes quickly apparent after just a few miles of driving. There is no storage space in the car save for a small glove box between the seats, and they also put small cell phone pockets by the seats. The unassisted steering is great in the canyons but heavy in parking situations, rearward visibility is terrible, and the car can feel very big on small country roads due to its wide stance. In traffic or on long straight stretches of highway the exhaust note becomes a mind-numbing drone. In the city, the 4C Spider garners as much attention as any supercar, with its exotic looks, the performance exhaust note, and its rarity makes it a conversation starter in parking lots, gas stations, and long red lights.

This 2019 4C Spider is Giallo Prototipo Yellow, a $1,500 option and one of the prettiest and rarest colors offered on the 4C Spider. The special hue is not the only option on this car.The 4C I am driving has many amazing options such as theinside trim done with carbon fiber, microfiber, and leather. Luxuries like cruise control, rear backup sensors, and an Alpine audio system are also optional. Performance options, in addition to the Akrapovic exhaust, include the race-tuned suspension package and wider wheels and performance tires. Outside there is even more carbon fiber, Bi Xenon headlamps, and color-matched brake calipers. hey even threw in a red Alfa Romeo car cover, which brings the total MSRP for this 4C Spider just over $85,000.,

That price point means that the 4C occupies a unique space in the sports car world, it costs nearly three times more than a Fiat 124 Abarth, the only other sub 100K Italian convertible on sale today. Yet, it is not significantly less expensive (with these options) than the Porsche 718 Spyder, which offers 177 more horsepower, a more practical interior and top assembly, and slightly more cargo space for your weekend getaways. If it is a practical sports car you are looking for the Jaguar F-Type, Audi TT RS, or C8 Corvette all offer more space, power, and function than the 4C Spider for around the same money. But while all those cars are great, they aren’t nearly as special as the Alfa Romeo. The 4C Spider is wildly impractical, far too loud, and frustratingly eccentric, and that is precisely why I love it. While using it daily would drive you insane, it is the perfect car for a weekend blast to the Hill Country, you’ll just need to ship your luggage to the hotel ahead of time, but it would be worth it.

We know 2020 is the final year of this model 4C Spider, and with no replacement on the horizon, the 4C could be the last true Alfa Romeo sports car, at least for a while. If I were going to put my money down on a sports car right now, it would be the 4C Spider. The little Alfa offers all the exotic good looks, thrilling driving dynamics, and exclusivity of, say a Lamborghini Huracan, with a starting price that is well, $190,000 less.

ARTFUL DESERT

ARTFUL DESERT

Texas Cultural Trust’s Texas Women Of The Arts Celebrates Art In Palm Springs

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Grover Steele  

 

THE SETTING: Palm Springs was the setting for several days of fun, sun and art. Two dozen members of Texas Cultural Trust’s Texas Women of the Arts recently descended upon the gorgeous desert enclave for an art tour of some of the nation’s most iconic works.

THE STYLE: Amidst the backdrop of picture-perfect weather, the desert-chic crowd spent their days touring some of the most iconic works in the area. Exhibits and venues toured included Lovers Rainbow by Pia Camil, a Palm Springs modern home tour, and visiting the Going Nowhere Pavilion by Julian Hoeber. The tour was capped off with a private tour of Sunnylands, previously known as the Annenberg Estate. Built by philanthropists Walter and Lenore Annenberg, the home is known for hosting eight presidents during their lifetime.

THE PURPOSE: The event raised awareness for Texas Cultural Trust’s Texas Women of the Arts, which is a group of 300 dynamic women from across the Lone Star state who share a mutual love of the arts. The mission of the group is to ensure that every child in Texas has access to arts and education programs, which are essential to a child’s development.