Archive for July, 2005

Jandek To Appear at Scottish Rite Theater in Austin

Music geeks have been salivating in the last couple of days after it was announced this week that Houston-based outsider musician Jandek will be making an appearance at the Scottish Rite Theater near West 18th and Guadalupe on August 28th. This will be one of three stateside appearances (along with New Orleans and New York) Jandek will making in the next two months. After a long and prolific recording career of self-releasing tapes, Jandek finally broke into live performances in 2004 with appearances in the U.K. Since then, a documentary called Jandek on Corwood was released, and he made a couple of other appearances in May 2005. However, the Austin appearance will be his first time before an American live audience.

Apparently, he wanders around Houston unknown to all but record store employees. A Whole Foods worker recently spotted Jandek at the Houston store [via]:

So I was at work (Whole Foods) this morning and everything was going great. I got a good night’s sleep and I’m working with tight people. Also, this lady gave me $10 for being nice to her. And then around 10am this tall, older gentlemen comes into my line with a box of Choice brand Oraganic Darjeeling tea. I notice he looks like Jandek (the recent pictures of him from Scotland) and that his voice (he says “Hello.” to me) sounds like it did on Jandek on Corwood when they played the phone interview from the 80s. His pants are pulled up high and he is very serene. Dude pays with a credit card and I think to myself and wonder how funny it would be if Sterling Smith (his real name) came up on the credit card slip. And then low and behold, under the signature line:

S.R. Smith

I chuckled to myself, hairs on my arm stood up. I looked at him, made a decision, and while handing him his receipt told him to “Have a nice day”. He said thank you and walked off.

Those interested may want to keep periodically checking because the show will sell out.

Update: Correction: Tickets will go on sale Saturday, July 30 at noon CDT. Tickets are $27 and available online or by phone only through Front Gate Tickets.

Update: Show is now (8/3/2005) sold out.

How to Spit Fried Worms

07-25-05_1845.jpgLast night’s Zilker Watermelon Social was a media frenzy, with cameras, lights, and throngs of people milling about Zilker Elementary. This probably had more to do with the filming of the Fried Worms flick on the school grounds than the annual neighborhood get-together, but hey, a crowd’s a crowd.

This film recently began shooting around Austin, with Monday’s scenes forming the first full day of production, according to a set hand. Unlike the last Zilker area shoot for the sparsely-cast Wendell Baker Story, the Fried Worms set was packed with kids being herded … erm, directed … from scene-to-scene. The constant traffic between the changing room and the set certainly kept things interesting throughout the watermelon seed spitting contest, although only one or two errant shots inadvertantly found a thespian target.

It was fun to watch all the kids playing on the set, with little discernable difference between the “work” and horsing around in between takes. With no prima donnas, tortured artists, or arrogant Scientologists hogging the limelight, it almost seemed like the making of entertainment might just be entertaining. To the casual observer, the filming and watermelon social could have been scheduled as part of one big family fun fest.

According to the Bible, “Fried Worms” is being directed by a guy who got his start writing an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. If it was the one where Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus take part in an on-air drunk driving experiment, then I have high hopes for this flick.

Lost Austinite: Found

vert.hiker.ap.jpgIf one of your local hiking buddies seemed to disappear for the last week or so, you might try his cell phone now. Austinite Gilbert Dewey Gaedcke is back in Texas after hanging himself out to dry in a Hawaiian lava field for five days.

Apparently seduced by the lure of fresh lava that flows deep in the Volcanoes National Park, Gaedcke became disoriented after dark and got lost trying to find his car. He endured days of dehydration and pain hiking amongst the cutting lava before a sharp-eyed kid on a helicopter tour got him rescued. In between, Gaedcke survived by draining moisture from moss he found on the occasional tree that actually survives in a place that closely resembles hell.

I visited these lava fields on the Big Island a few years back, and there’s nothing in the Hill Country that compares you for that kind of hike. The lava is deceptively smooth until a rock unexpectedly breaks into shards under your feet, and the expansive desolation can easily lull you into confusion. Fortunately, I’m a big wuss who turned around long before reaching the lava flow, because I doubt I’d have thought to suck down moss shakes as a survival technique.

Welcome back to Austin, Mr. Gaedcke. How about a nice, safe trip to Colorado Bend State Park next time, OK? It’s not quite Hawaii, but Gorman Falls are good enough for a flash-back.

“The Real World: Austin” Warehouse To Become Restaurant

If you were thinking of renting out the “Real World: Austin” house on 301 San Jacinto, you may be disappointed to learn that owner Will Houston has decided to lease the warehouse to a Mexican restaurant (Rio Grande–started by Texas natives in Colorado, where all the great Mexican joints are from) and a presentation graphics store (owned by Austin-based Thomas Reprographics).

Despite the possibility of renting out the “Real World” living space for thousands a night (as RW producer Ted Kenney said San Diego and Philadelphia are doing), Houston told the Daily Texan he decided against the idea because, “We’re not in the hotel business here.”

If you are still longing to bring back that “Real World” feeling, you might want to go visit the new home of the Art Deco “Austin” sign at Blackmail on South Congress.

Local news Mabel Davis Park pile-on

Since the Austin Metblog launched last October, I’ve written more than a few times about my neighborhood park. Both the Statesman and News8 joined the fray today. Welcome to the party, kids. What took you so long?

Update: KUT aired a story this morning.

Successful streetside slogan

As we were creeping toward the intersection (all those wonderfully programmed traffic signals), we saw that one solicitor was getting a very decent response. When at last we reached his station, we saw what his sign said: “

Digital Convergence Initiative

dci-widget.pngAs more and more of our tools and toys become computers, they can be merged into machines that do many things that were previously handled by separate devices. My computer can also be my television set, stereo, telephone, weather station, dictionary and encyclopedia… these functions converge in one digital device, and that’s what we mean by digital convergence. New cars are supercomputers, smart houses combine various digital capabilities, and as computers become more ubiquitous, we can network ’em via wireless. Convergence will continue, and business clusters &nash; concentrations of related businesses that have geographical proximity and potential synergy that they can leverage by working together. Cluster thinking sees these related businesses as a system. The businesses may be competitors within their sector, but they communicate and cooperate in support of the sector, to ensure that its needs are met and to help create efficiencies that add more value overall. Because digital convergence involves several sectors (e.g. computer manufacturing, game development, digital video and cinema, digital music), in an area where many or all of those industries are present, you can envision a cluster of clusters, or supercluster. That list of convergent sectors sounds familiar because Texas has ’em all, especially along the IH35 corridor from Waco through Austin to San Antonio. It follows that we should have that supercluster thing happening, but such things don’t just spring into being, they require focused effort and commitment. Hence the creation of the Digital Convergence Initiative,

a public/private venture to facilitate the growth of the digital-oriented industrial and scientific base of Central Texas to:

  • Create regional and U.S. competitive advantage in the international digital market
  • Advance economic opportunities for regional businesses with attention to small business growth
  • Align institutional and private sector digital-oriented research and development with consumer demands and government requirements

Instigated by IC², The DCI has representatives in Austin, San Antonio, and Waco.


austxmex.jpgJust writing “AusTex” brings a nostalgic tear to the eye in memory of the old AusTex Lounge (now housing the Magnolia Cafe on South Congress). But that’s just a detour from the business at hand, which is to proclaim that anyone wanting a panoramic snapshot of Austin caught in time as embodied in its Mexican restaurants must buy this book.

This has Aus-Tex-Mex, general Tex-Mex, Mex-Mex, and every permutation. The cleverest thing is to undertake this project at all; the second-cleverest is the design of the little ideograms or icons marking each individual review. These include a wheeled taco and a hand sprouting botanical material from its thumb (you must see the book to know what these mean). Black-and-white photographs, unfortunately without labels, embellish the text handsomely and atmospherically. The interleaved essays are of varying quality. The copy-editing leaves something to be desired. The reviews are not always of the most informative; the reviews are highly idiosyncratic; the reviews sometimes tend more toward descriptions of the atmosphere than of the food. But the genius of this publication, and it is genius, lies in the inclusiveness.

So, sincere thanks go to the Dirty Lowdown Press and all those who contributed to “Mexican Food in Austin: The Guide.” Having seen this book on sale at locations all over town and having resisted buying it for months, I finally weakened at Mexic-Arte and bought a copy, which I read from cover to cover in one go, sparking discussion with every entry read aloud. Have one of these on hand to entertain your out-of-town visitors. Hope that it’s kept reprinted and updated.

Kiwi kwest

saigon.jpg After all these many years, the Kiwi Brand knife is looking a bit old. Although it’s had nine lives, it can’t possibly last forever. This one was bought years ago at Saigon Supermarket. Today, although there were other Kiwi items and cutlery of other brands, including a cleaver of considerable weight that could smash through just about any bone, my favorite Kiwi was not there. In fact, although there were fresh Hell banknotes and generous packets of joss paper, other than fresh vegetables, the shelves looked a bit sparsely stocked.

At the New Oriental Market, there was plenty of cutlery, with both carbon and stainless-steel blades, but nothing Kiwi was to be found.

My Thanh was passed before we knew it, and the auguries didn’t foretell happy U-turning, so the Kiwi kwest will continue another time. In the meantime, I’m being very, very careful with my favorite knife, now that I realize that it’s not so easily replaced.

Department of backyard cuisine

What happened? On major holidays, courtesy of those who started it all while it was still dark, among morning aromas was the aura of smoke and other olfactory components of BBQ. This pleasing custom seems to be disappearing.

People with less dedication and a higher laziness quotient would fire up their three-dollar hibachi grills at suppertime and pitch on a little or a lot of red meat of some kind and maybe some foil packets of potatoes if they were feeling ambitious.

Those who had invested in something taller than a hibachi, something with three or four legs, tended to indulge in a bit too much charcoal lighter, although for a time there were those who shunned briquets in favor of real charcoal and who used those firestarter chimneys that burn newspaper and don’t stink.

Then came the gas grillers, with each piece of equipment seeming to be more elaborate than another. Is it the gas grills or the times? When did red meat start going away, yielding to chicken parts? And why do so many people douse their non-vegetarian items of all persuasions with soy sauce? When did teriyaki cuisine take over?

This query is made in the spirit of disinterested research by one who as a kid consumed countless meals comprising menu items fried, boiled, stewed, roasted, or baked by a wood-burning range and who has no desire to make a practice of ingesting food prepared for the table using more primitive means than that. What I’m saying here is that I don’t cook outdoors unless camping and, except for the estimable and now disappearing masters of home BBQ, I don’t encourage others to do so.

Maybe it won’t be all Kikkoman, all the time forever. Post-teriyaki, what?

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