Archive for August, 2005

Addition to the array

Seven issues strong is La Voz Hispana, a small broadsheet published every two weeks. It’s headquartered in Bryan, but claims to be distributed in Williamson, Travis, Hays, Bastrop, and Caldwell counties. Here in Austin it’s been found at corner stores on the east side.

One of the four sections is given to sports, and large chunks of the contents are furnished by a syndicated news service from Mexico (public-service articles, world politics, and the like). There’s no classified section, but a good number of display ads from Austin businesses. The Austin news has for the most part been very extensive coverage of crimes, fires, and vehicular accidents, complete with photographs and interviews where possible, and including much more information than the brief squibs contained in the local daily.

La Prensa publishes more frequently and has more of an on-line presence than ever before. El Mundo seems to flourish, while El Norte, published monthly, holds its own. Arriba Art & Business News continues its excellent coverage monthly of arts and cultural events, but isn’t as fat as it once was.

With much fanfare,

More monkey music

An additional unforgettable monkey music item is One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show. How could the Chron overlook Texas’s own Joe Tex?

There must be a pony in here somewhere

On trash-collection day, the Solid Waste people leave the trashcan lid flipped open to show that it’s been emptied. The practicing pessimist is concerned to arrive home and see the lid closed.

It can mean one thing only: some generous passer-by has deposited a gift. For reasons unfathomable, people who do this rarely leave the cover open. The lucky recipient is fortunate if the deposit is something like an empty cigarette pack, beer can, or fast-food container of some sort.

The most frequent offering, though, is dropped by a dog-walker and comes encased in a plastic newspaper sleeve, most obnoxiously in a blue one. Those inclined to this form of benovolence tend to select the larger breeds of dogs as their animal companions. Thank you! But I’d rather have the offering left naked in the yard, where the rains, when they eventually fall, will wash it all away, than melting and stinking at the very bottom of the trash receptacle. Or take it home with you, creephead!

(The pony story is most often associated these days with Ronald Reagan, who told a modernized version. The form in which it came from the older generation always involved a little boy who wanted the best premium for selling the greatest quantities of something from door to door; sometimes it was Rosebud Salve and other times it was subscriptions to the Saturday Evening Post. His optimism was always displayed on Christmas morning, when he rushed out to the barn expecting to see his prize waiting for him.)

Hill Country Nudists View Nude Art Exhibit In the Nude

The Hill Country Nudists had a private showing last Friday of a new exhibit featuring full body Sfumato nude photographs (NSFW) by George Krause at the dberman Gallery. According to the Houston Chronicle, the club, which has around 60 members (2/3 male), decided to arrange a private showing with curtains closed on Friday.

“We tend to do things that are a little unusual or first-time events,” (club president Steve) Bosbach said. “I saw that it would dovetail nicely with members of our club because we have several artists in the group; one that teaches art, several professional and amateur photographers (including) one that went through the program George Krause originated (at the University of Houston).

“And besides, it was about nudes.”

And it did have a strangely logical symmetry. Two dozen nudists

Leap of Faith

A month or so back, Austin’s mayor Will Wynn jumped off a bridge. Now he’s pushing Austinites to take an even greater jump; out of their pick-ups and into rechargable cars.

sprinter.bmpThe Toyota Prius brought hybrid cars into the mainstream, but its design still relies heavily on the combustion engine to supplement the electric motor. Some eco-driven tuners have pimped their rides into uber-efficient volt rods that plug into wall sockets and store energy in additional batteries. Manufacturers like DaimlerChrysler are slowly adopting this innovation, and the City of Austin wants to speed things up by promoting the new plug-in hybrids.

The “Plug-In Austin” campaign, officially launched today, commits to purchase such vehicles for government fleets (starting with one test unit in 2006), obtain participation from utilities to subsidize early plug-in adopters, and promote petitions and resolutions to stir greater manufacturer production. The plug-in hybrids are appealing because they get hyperbolic fuel economy and shift the cost / pollution / political burden away from oil into electrical powerplants which, in a perfectly green world, could be powered by wind farms, solar panels, or maybe someday even happy thoughts.

Having Texans give up fossilized 4×4’s in favor of Eveready Econoboxes might seem more like a leap over Niagara Falls than the Pfluger Bridge, but Wynn thinks the City can help jump-start demand. It’s a sweetly retro Keynesian plan, using the government to prod the private sector like some sort of New Deal for hybrids. I’ll bet those pinkos up in Dallas wouldn’t even try to pull off something like this!

Wynn has business on-board since there’s a local battery tech presence. The enviros dig the clean air possibilities. Even some of the Freepers like the idea of oil independence enough to get on board the hybrid craze. It’s a crazy coalition … so crazy it just might work. I’ve had enough of the Keep Austin Weird poser nonsense. But keeping Austin wired, from the car to the outlet, sounds pretty appealing.

You will soon have visitors

This is a prediction that never fails to come true for people who live in Austin. Living in Austin is a lot like living in Boulder, Santa Fe, or anywhere on the beach. You will have visitors, and they will prolong their stays. It’s always a bit surprising what people want to do or see, left to their own devices. The charter oak, or at least the site of its former splendor? Yes; they want to see it. Ditto, Mount Bonnell. And the bats. People get these ideas from the free-literature rack at the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Today’s Wall Street Journal “Off the Beaten Track” column features a brief list of recommendations, with comments, by WSJ staff reporter Amy Chozick. For “where to stay,” she recommends The Austin Motel or the Driskill; for “where to eat, Las Manitas and the Salt Lick; “where to shop,” Tesoros; “what to do,” the Bob Bullock museum and Barton Springs; and “where to go for live music,” an Austin City Limits taping, Antone’s, and Stubbs.

Keeping to the categories and the number of selections, I wonder what others find that their visitors want to see and do.

There’s no disagreement about places to stay, other than that two other excellent choices, depending on means, are the San José and the Four Seasons. Out-of-staters love Luby’s, and flyover people demand Katz’s, in both cases for people-watching. When it comes to restaurants, though, there are scores that that people love and that are not to be found elsewhere. Visitors from the Valley or other border locations have no interest in Tesoros; it’s Central Market and Whole Foods where they want to shop. Sites to be visited always include the Capitol and sometimes some particular portion of the campus (a great photo-taking location is by the mustang sculpture and lawn at the Texas Memorial Museum). For live music, it’s the Broken Spoke and Jovita’s, unless there’s music outdoors somewhere.

The column did not have a watering-hole category. It’s an important one, but the selections must depend on the visitors. If it’s merely a question of Austin atmosphere, then the Driskill piano bar and Scholz’s could go on the list.

We tend to have multi-generational groups of visitors, usually including people who want to hear conversation and hear themselves think. Other visitors have other ideas about what makes them happy.

Biscuit update

I wrote last week about the passing of Randy “Biscuit” Turner. The Statesman had a follow-up article on Sunday. (Beware to anyone reading this more than a week after the article was published as the Statesman has the dumbass policy of only allowing free access to the past week’s articles. However, if you’re an Austin resident and have a library card, you can get access to much older stuff from the library site. If anyone wants more details, leave a comment and I’ll tell you how to get to the archives.)

I attended the impromptu wake at Pedazo Chunk Friday night. I’ve got a few photos that I still need post. I’ll link them tonight. I got there about an hour and a half after it started and didn’t stay long because my son got antsy. A lot of the details can be gotten from the Statesman article, but from what I could see, Chris Gates was the only Big Boys member in attendance.

The official memorial service for Biscuit will be held in his hometown of Gladewater, TX. this Saturday. The word is that an Austin celebration of Randy’s life is being organized for sometime in September. Stay tuned to the Chronicle website for more information as it becomes available.

Update: Jon links another Biscuit remembrance from Ed Ward.

Update 2: Outgoing Austin metblogger Wixlet remembers Biscuit as well.

Good Riddance

Let me just say that I, for one, am so glad the state legislature finally left town. I know there a boom to the local economy, but this summer has been extremely annoying in Austin with the politicians and lobbyists crowding into my favorite spots. Besides, they didn’t do anything anyway. (Oh wait..except pass some Telecom Bill for SBC)

Now I can get my bartender’s attention again and maybe some of the downtown traffic will clear up.

Bitter End Engulfed in Flames on 3rd and Colorado

Driving back from the new P. Terry’s on South Lamar we saw black smoke billowing from downtown. As we got closer, we saw 3rd and 4th Streets blocked off and The Bitter End ‘fully involved’. Here’s a quick cameraphone photo from 3rd and Congress. The Statesman has more now.

For children of all ages

greatest.jpgThese hats were toppers for the bags of cotton candy being sold at the circus and come “free” with the candy. The Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus is in town, with just two shows remaining, one this evening and one tomorrow, before the railcars in East Austin are loaded and the train rolls once again, on to the next town. The clowns and the young female acrobats from China steal the show, but that’s just one person’s opinion. The greatest novelty act is the upside down turn performed way above the audience, an exercise in disorientation that won’t be spoiled by being described here. This is the 134th edition, the blue circus, with David Larible.

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