Archive for August, 2005

Ad-Vent

Ok all you KUT listeners, am I the only one who can’t stand the Capra & Cavelli ads with those ridiculously pretentious taglines? Who the hell comes up with those anyway?

“Woodman, Spare That Tree!”

Touch not a single bough!” There’s been a lot of “tree work” (for which, read “tree destruction”) going on. I feared for our old house, built around a live oak. But it’s “only” another oak tree that’s been taken down on the property.

This is another house where we lived without air-conditioning. The landlord didn’t mind taking in two dogs and two cats. We didn’t mind seeing raccoons coming down the treetrunk at night and looking into the living room. The tree is glassed in on three of the four sides (the last side is a solid wall), and spreads its limbs over the entire roof of the house and beyond it. Among the places it shades is a little sleeping porch atop a carport.

There were many tenants before us and there’ve been many since, but this continues to be an outstandingly hospitable and distinctive Austin house. One of the predecessors left an upright piano in the carport out back. In good tune, despite the iffy shelter, the piano often gave forth music of the best quality in the middle of the night. From up in the sleeping porch, it was never possible to see who was playing so beautifully. Calls down never elicited a response.

One day the piano was mysteriously gone, so subsequent tenants never enjoyed that particular music. But the house is still there. And, even though its contemporary has been felled, our particular tree still stands. And long may it do so. In summers like these, Austin needs every single bit of its shade, every single one of its trees.

Billy’s On Burnet

Billy's On BurnetAfter work yesterday, the lads and I popped over to the relatively new Billy’s On Burnet for a couple of beers and a burger or two. The Chronicle reviewed the place about a month ago and was more or less on target. The one thing they didn’t mention was the lack of parking. Billy’s is located on the southwest corner of Burnet and Hancock and their parking lot can only accommodate roughly 10 cars. After that, you’re going to have to go hunting because the lots of other businesses around the restaurant apparently tow at all hours. I ended up on a residential street across Burnet and a little bit north of Hancock.

There’s a fair-sized deck with picnic tables on the east side of the buliding. More than half of the tables were full when I arrived at 6:30pm. The tables inside were also mostly full with families and guys just off work taking advantage of the $1.50 Lone Star pints, a Tuesday special. Domestic pints are $1.50 on Mondays and happy hour lasts from 2-7pm. Billy’s is smoke free and encourages a family atmosphere. I got the feeling that at least some of the patrons were from the surrounding neighborhood. There’s no shortage of televisions at Billy’s. One widescreen flat-panel dominates the main room and there were at least three other sets scattered throughout the rest of the bar.

The food was decent. I opted for the Shults burger, which features bacon and jack cheese. I’d place it somewhere in the middle of the burgers that I’ve had around Austin. One of my compatriots ordered the Frito Pie and seemed satisfied with his decision. The beer selection is moderate. In contrast with the Draught House which is roughly ten blocks away, Billy’s has a smaller selection of beer, but better food. The staff was friendly and the food was served in a reasonable amount of time. It wasn’t out immediately, but you won’t wait as long as you would at Casino El Camino. All in all, a welcome addition to the relatively barren reaches of north central Austin when it comes to finding a place to grab a beer and something to eat after work.

Come for the fun, stay for the withering heat

Priceline.com just released a list of its top 50 Labor Day destinations, based on booking requests through its site. Vegas tops the list, followed by Chicago, NYC, and other predictable tourist destinations. Nestled in between Vancouver and San Diego at #17 is our very own Austin, TX.

Sprinting between our air conditioned bars and restaurants is now officially a bigger draw than chilling in Tahoe (#30) or clubbing in South Beach (#45). Austin has even supplanted the Riverwalk (#31) as a tourist destination, but that’s a gimme unless Dick’s Last Resort is the jewel in your nightlife crown.

Story originally found in the Austin Business Journal (free reg. req.).

The Art of Running

10879178_ae09e33fbc_m.jpgIt gets a bit harder to run along Town Lake when the mercury threatens to explode cartoonishly from the thermometer. Austin’s oppressive summer heat creates certain distractions — the look of tortured exertion is plainly visible on the faces of runners-by — that can overwhelm the inherent pleasures of the hike-and-bike trail. In these conditions, it helps both physical and mental wellness to stop for water at the various fountains along the route.

If you stop at the Pfluger Bridge fountain, you might get the added benefit of meeting Rick Calzadilla. Rick is a regular visitor to the trail, displaying his work to the joggers and walkers who care to look. You might also catch him painting or shooting photographs around the area.

But even if you couldn’t care less about the art, it’s worth a few minutes to hang out with Rick. With some cool shade and good conversation, you might remember that the Town Lake trail is more than just a place to punish yourself in the heat.

Houston Chronicle: Texas capital goes from cool to Austintacious

The Houston Chronicle takes a stab at Austin’s current trendiness: “Once a city filled with a live-and-let-live demeanor, newcomers have made Austin more about pretension, wealth and attitude.” Ouch.

Eyes on the skies

Watch for skyrockets this Sunday evening at about 9:30, on the downtown side of the river and just east of the Congress Avenue bridge. In fact, the bridge, if not for some reason closed off, will be an ideal place from which to view this ten-minute display. The Norwood estate dog park is probably another good spot (with noseclips for odor-free viewing? But, then, the bats under the bridge have their own special aura). Guests at the Four Seasons will have the best view of all.

Bavu Blakes Disqualified From Scion Competition Over Controversial Anti-Bush Lyrics

Only a day after he had been informed he made the top ten in the Scion:NextUp Unsigned Emcee Search Contest, Austin rapper Bavu Blakes learned from organizer Jay Cortez of Inform Ventures that his entry had been disqualified because of overly “political” lyrics. Blakes’ entry, “Black Gold,” (listen at his MySpace site) was rejected for three lyrics in particular:

  1. “Now Bush and bin Laden got so much they rotten”
  2. “Texas home of the real death row”
  3. “What’d we really go to Iraq fo?”

According to SOHH.com [via], Inform Ventures’ Patrick Courrielche told the site that Blakes was not actually a finalist, but was under consideration for being a finalist. Cortez had told Blakes earlier that there was a possibility of editing the lyrics, and Blakes had given him approval to do whatever it took to advance him in the competition.

His rejection means that he will miss out on the prizes, which includes him the chance to win the grand prize which includes a $50,000 marketing deal with Scion, $5,000 in cash, opportunities to perform at Scion events and a music video for the winning song.

Scion and Inform Ventures have been notable in recent years for their corporate support of hip hop events, which critics claim is co-opting hip hop culture. The blog HoustonSoReal had the following comments:

While we understand that any corporate entity has the right to include whoever it wants in their promotions and marketing strategies, we find it quite funny that a company so hell bent on using hip-hop to promote it

Austin Week in Review – 8/26/2005

Austin Week in Review - 8/19/2005

Links to stories available here.

B-Side Open for Business: Help out Bitter End Staff

Charlie blogged last week about the Bitter End fire. My son goes to school with a child of one of the waitstaff there and he just posted this to our school message board:

I wait tables at the Bitter End, and I know some of you must have heard that the Bitter End was struck by fire last Sunday afternoon. No one was hurt, but the 3 alarm blaze destroyed the kitchen and shut down the brewery. The kitchen will be rebuilt from scratch, but that will take two months.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP: The B-Side lounge & taproom at the Bitter End is now open for business and what our employees (including myself) need is for everyone to come by and spend some money, drink some local beer, and help fill the tip jars. We will also have an “Employee Fire Relief Fund Jar” to fill that will be split amongst the staff that are not working that shift. Tell everyone you know that we are open and need their business!!!

Our management staff is shuffling schedules to give everyone a chance to make some money and get some financial relief. Benefits are around the corner and more info will be forthcoming. Our friends at Live Oak and other local breweries are supplementing our Bitter End beer supply (we saved about 75 kegs of BE beer).

I myself thought the whole place as shutdown because of the fire, but that’s apparently not the case. So, if you’re looking for a place for a few happy hour drinks this week, head to B-Side and help out the staff there as they try to get through the next couple of months. I’m always up for drinking for a good cause, especially when it involves Austin Pale Ale!

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