Archive for January, 2005


Loud and repeated sounds were heard between 4:15 and 4:30 am yesterday morning (Sunday, 30 January). The first set sounded louder than the second. There was no inter-mixing of the two different sounds. One set followed the other. Some thought they were gunshots. Others thought they sounded more like heavy-duty fireworks. The acoustical effects of the foggy, drizzly weather made it difficult to tell the true quality of the sounds.

They were reported as seeming to come from Riverside and IH-35, westward all the way to Congress. They did sound as though they were coming from a moving vehicle (or at least the sounds seem to move). Different people reported different numbers, all the way from 6 or 8 to a dozen or more.

The police department seeks information on this incident. People may call 3-1-1 or they may call or write to Austin Police Department South Central District Representative James Scott (telephone 448-4385).

El Gallo’s resident Garfield-semblance

The next time somebody backs into the pickets he’s painted on, he’ll be obliterated, since he’s fading fast anyhow. He was glimpsed as we headed back across the lot after scooping some of the first asparagus of the season, than which there is none sweeter anywhere.

“Please pass the biscuits, Pappy”

It was just a little after nine, but the Frisco was completely full, booths in both rooms and the counter, too, and there was no time to wait to be seated. How sad it was to see those pans of beautiful made-from-scratch biscuits coming out from the kitchen. We did take a pie home, though. Pies for the lunch crowd came from the oven just seconds after the biscuits. We picked up a discarded Dallas paper there, hoping to read more about those kids who found all that cash. So, no biscuits, but I thought of you, Pappy O’D.

History in the making?

If you’re wondering who are the “10 Women We Love” in the February issue of Austin Monthly, here they are: Shawn Colvin, Donna Stockton-Hicks, Jody Conradt, Debi O’Keefe, Karen Kuykendall, Dot Hewitt (of Dot’s Place), Rachel Muir, Gloria Perez-Walker (of Latina Mami), Carolyn Pfeiffer, and Toby Futrell.

In the February issue, at least, among what the reader is getting, in addition to 20 pages or so of editorial copy and advertising on “22 of the Hottest Cosmetic Procedures in Austin,” are an entertaining interview with Liz Carpenter and a charming little piece on two of the long-time waitresses at the Frisco Shop.

This handsomely produced publication, printed on slick coated paper and with excellent photography, sells individually for $2.95 an issue. For some reason it has begun arriving in the mail although we have not subscribed.

Years ago, I sold my complete run of Third Coast magazine to Half Price Books, instead of depositing it with the Austin History Center, as I should have done. Now I save Austin ephemera and go the History Center and ask before I toss or sell, because the originators of what makes Austin Austin don’t always think to make sure that evidence of their existence is saved for posterity.

Beat the coyote II

The city and county overblown response to reported sightings of coyotes is amazing. There’s a lot of hyped scare stuff out there. At least the site now adds this language: “To date there have been no reports in Travis County of coyotes attacking humans.” People who keep poultry and don’t coop it at night and people who leave cats and small dogs out overnight shouldn’t, coyotes or not. Coyotes take the easy food and there’s plenty of it around. I bet that what people are seeing for the most part are gray foxes, but there are people who go crazy when they see them, also; and there are plenty to see within a mile or so of the Capitol if you’re looking in the right places at the right times. I’ve spent time where there really are lots of coyotes, and they make themselves heard. The local reports have mentioned nothing about hearing them at night. An earlier press release sounded the alarm. It hasn’t been clear from the later press release exactly what steps are contemplated, but the sort of measures that rangemen have used in the past have turned out, where effective, to be dangerous and certainly are not suitable for urban areas. So the county has entered into a contract to spend at least $30,000 in hard-earned money from the taxpayers on “culling,” meaning trapping and killing. It says so right here on page 27 of the commissioners’ court minutes for November 9. A Startlegram columnist makes fun of all this: “After the wet summer, coyotes are on the prowl all over Texas. In Austin, Travis County commissioners have hired biologists to manage the population in northwest Austin, where coyotes have been peering into windows and stalking homeowners carrying groceries.” The property appraisals will be mailed out soon; setting taxation rates will follow. And this is an example of how our money is spent.

Beat the coyote

It appears that the switch of 104.3 from Urban/Hip-Hop to All Talk didn’t last very long. Last July, Beat 104.3 became The Coyote, an all talk format with Howard Stern in the morning, followed by some Comedy Radio compilation show, Don & Mike, Russ Martin, and Tom Leykis. I noticed last week that the Beat had been resurrected (hopefully they’ll find the time to fix that godawful web site).

It appears that Howard Stern remains in what is now a somewhat peculiar hybrid station. It may be the best of both worlds. Austin couldn’t really afford to lose Beat 104.3, but their morning stuff left a lot to be desired. I found the rest of the Coyote line-up annoying at best and I can only stand Stern in small doses unless I’m interested in the guest.

Fond of them anyhow

Nobody ever seems to decide to grow them deliberately. Few even eat the fruit, finding it to be too sweet, but those who do enjoy loquats beg permission to try to beat the birds to them.

They’ve been there for years and years and years. Other yards have loquats, too. In one of those giant freezes a couple of decades ago, the 30-foot specimens froze completely and had to be chopped down, but they’ve grown back almost as tall from the roots.

In November, the peak of bloom in most years, the air is filled with the cloying and pervasive smell of the flowers. This year, it was cold enough at a particular time so that some blossoms dropped and did not go on to form fruit. It has subsequently been cold enough a couple of times so that some of the fruits in formation have dropped from the trees and will not go on to maturity and ripeness.

That’s just fine. The last two years the loquats have been extremely productive. After every rain there are a couple of hundred seedlings, joining the mimosa and pecan offspring that must be pulled from the ground in such numbers.

Some people keep them trimmed to shrubbery. I just try to pull out as many seedlings as I can find. When the fruits ripen, the jays, grackles, and orchard orioles fall on them from the skies. The squirrels, opossums, raccoons, and foxes work on them through the night.

Even so, in a prolific year, there are so many that hundreds fall to the ground and begin to ferment, so that the air is filled with a winey aroma.

Loquats are evergreen, which means that they drop their leaves a few at a time, all year long. Each leaf seems as large as a tobacco leaf. A&M reports that an older tree can easily produce 100 pounds of fruit.

Yikes! And our elderly neighbor who used to preserve them, as she did figs from our yard, is no longer with us.

South Congress Tsunami Benefit 1/22

I received this email from a friend this morning:

If you have some gift or other shopping to do this weekend, please stop by Ten Thousand Villages of Austin, a nonprofit fair trade retail store at 1317 South Congress.

On Saturday, January 22nd, from 11am – 9pm the store is hosting a benefit for survivors of the tsunami in Southeast Asia and will donate 50% of its sales to the MCC Asia Earthquake Fund. There will also be live music.

I noticed a sign taped to the window at Jo’s, too; a portion of Jo’s proceeds will go to two different organizations, one benefitting animals and the other benefitting children. I’m sure there are other merchants in the South Congress shopping district who will be participating (if you know of any, leave a comment and I’ll add a list here).

Swingin’ with LBJ

A new exhibit opened last month at the LBJ Library called Signs of the Times: Life in the Swingin’ Sixties. The Wife checked it out last week and deemed it worthy of a visit. I hope to make it out there while my mother-in-law is in town for the next couple of weeks. The exhibit boasts monitors running TV shows from the era and also comedy clips of Woody Allen and Bill Cosby from early in their careers. The exhibit is open daily from 9am to 5pm and admission is free.

Flying daggers, supercops, and satin steel


The House of Flying Daggers may not be in town long since it was late in arriving. The echo game probably works fairly well on a smaller screen, but the bamboo grove must be enjoyed on a large one.

Long before the Alamo Drafthouse gladdened the hearts of Austin moviegoers with its once-a-month Hong Kong showcases, the old Riverside 8 drew overflow crowds an hour before showtime, which was 12:30 in the morning on every other Saturday. Lines began forming well before midnight, and some people were always turned away.

And the Texas Union delighted full houses with the latest (and older movies also) from Stephen Chow, Jet-Li, Chow Yun-Fat, Anita Mui, Maggie Cheung, Bridget Lin, Jackie Chan, and many, many others. When I was cleaning out a desk drawer this weekend I found a Union program list from February, March, and April of an unknown year. There were multiple showings each of Drunken Master, The Blade, Hard-Boiled, Supercop III, High Risk, The Tai-Chi Master, and The Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk. I saw every one, on Sunday afternoon where possible.

The popcorn was fresh, the crowds were happy. There I learned the Golden Harvest beginning musical theme and to know whether somebody’s speaking Cantonese or Mandarin.

Hurry up, Alamo Drafthouse South!

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