Archive for September, 2005

Give and receive

The promise is that, if you give your opinion about various Austin dining establishments, you will receive a free copy of the Zagat 2006 guide to Texas restaurants when it goes to press.

This is the guide that began in NYC years ago, aimed at expense-account diners. On the vote page, there’s a place to click on a Texas restaurants link.

The breakdown by Austin neighborhoods is a bit peculiar sometimes, and so is the list of eat-spots up for comment. At the end of the survey, one of the questions is whether the respondent has been dining out more often, less often, or at about the same frequency as two years ago. And the respondent is asked how much he or she claims to tip. Here in Austin, the great tipping divide is between those who have worked in the business and those who never have.

ACL avoidance, tropical division

It didn’t seem that hot in the shade of the buildings down on Sixth Street. The T&T number (476-7744, courtesy of the Fox TV station) reported 108 degrees a while ago. Can that be true? Apparently so; the National Weather Service special statement for today confirms very high temperatures. The Shiner beer thermometer reached its highest mark of the summer, 85 degrees, today, just a while ago (the walls keep getting warmer even though the sun’s getting lower; but the house lags behind outdoors in heating up in the mornings). This is the official record-keeper for our dwelling, which lacks air-conditiioning. It’s not in the kitchen, always the warmest room, with the pilot lights on the gas stove, but it’s not in the coolest room, either, since it’s near a transom kept open all summer long and some drafty French doors. So, we haven’t seen the last of summer heat. Not this year. Not yet.

ACL avoidance, Pecan Street division

One of the very best features of any Pecan Street festival is the price of admission: nothing. Of course, if your personal resistence to the allures of turkey legs is low, your pockets will be lighter when you leave.

The schedule at the Pecan Street site doesn’t show some of the acts being announced on the Spanish-language radio stations. For instance, the stations are announcing that Sonny Sauceda will go on the Latin stage this afternoon (near Neches and East Seventh). Has he split from Grupo Vida? And tomorrow afternoon, on the International stage (near Red River and East Seventh), Cerronato and Austin’s own Manuel “Cowboy” Donley and sus Estrellas are on for sure.

I’m always hoping to add to my collection of beercan pinwheels. The people who used to sell them from their front yards have all been taxed out of town now, but sometimes a Pecan Street fest is a place to find one.

ACL avoidance, generally

If there’s anything more to be avoided than being out in the heat for extended periods when the weather’s like this, it’s paying to be out in the heat, paying large sums of money. And paying large sums of money to be out in the heat with tens of thousands of other people. This is the opinion of just one person, but when I make this confession in company, there are always others who are then bold enough to express the same sentiments.

SxSW events take place at a more, shall we say, “salubrious” time of year. During ACL and during SxSW, a full house is always expected. The out-of-town visitors are always lots of fun.

But don’t make me go to Zilker. I hate to wait in line. For anything.

Austin Week in Review – 9/23/2005

President’s nephew arrested on Sixth Street Katrina bumps ACL Festival guests Evacuees spend a day at Zilker Park
Taco Xpress’ Maria Statue Vandalized Austin diocese investigating after priest pricks kids with pins Couple donates $2.5m to Ballet Austin
Hot weather in September Pro- and anti-immigration forces clash Businesses sue over smoking ban
Texas defeats Rice 51-10 Woman on trial in baby’s scalding death Sheryl to perform free show for Lance
Toros announce NBA affiliates Dalai Lama visits Austin 7,000 turn out for Willie’s Katrina show
Austin hotels full Bus drivers hold one-day strike Rita evacuees hit Austin
Dell moves up on richest Americans list Austin one of fastest growing metropolitan areas Austin one of costliest home markets

ACL Festival Planners Go On With The Show

Austin City Limits Festival organizers had a tough “damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don’t” call to make today on going through with the festival. On one hand, if they cancelled the festival due to the approach of Hurricane Rita, months of planning, booking and work would be lost. With the nature of artists schedules, there would be no way that they could reschedule such a diverse line-up in a small amount of time. On the other side of the coin, they’ve upset a few out-of-state people who feel that they could have cancelled the event for the sake of those who won’t be able to fly into Houston tomorrow or cancelled it to free up area hotels for Houston hurricane evacuees. Kelso quips that maybe it was the Starbucks connection. But with the hurricane seeming to take a turn out of Austin’s path, I think they made the best choice they could have made with the cards they were dealt. We have yet to see whether this will have an affect on future festivals or ticket sales, but for those of us who felt the festival was getting a little too hot and crowded last year, maybe this year will grant us a brief respite from the throngs who surrounded us last year and made for an unpleasant experience. I’m sure in the end that ACL organizers will do the right thing, whether that means cancelling Saturday if Rita changes her mind again or refunding tickets. And the rest of us who attend may have a little more breathing room (however wet it may be) this weekend.

Faring well

The generally upward trend in gasoline prices will probably lead the taxicab franchises in Austin to go soon to the city council and ask for fare increases. In the meantime, though, apart from that crimp on profits, drivers are out and very busy.

Early arrivals for the Austin City Limits festival account for plenty of this business, and around the clock. But the one-day walkout at Capital Metro is forcing bus-riders who live away from the major routes to get around by cab.

On a day like this (an ozone day, yet, when bus rides are customarily free) the paucity of buses hurts. It’s interesting to see what Cap Metro considers to be the essential major routes, the ones that must be kept running, no matter what, even if on reduced schedules.

These, by the way, are the ones that run most frequently and the ones that are standing-room only during peak hours and the ones that sometimes must pass people by because they are too full to allow additional passengers to board.

Welcome Houstonians, Galvestonians and South Texans

So, you’ll all be hanging out with us this weekend and perhaps the foreseeable future? Excellent. I’m afraid you’re out of luck getting tickets to ACL, but there’s plenty of other stuff going on. I’ll throw in a plug for my own band, The Bad Rackets, playing tonight around 10pm at Beerland.

I’ve already noticed an impact this morning. The traffic heading east on Ben White, FM 969 and US 183 on my commute was much worse than usual. I pass the Delco Center on the way to work. The parking lot was full of both cars and people. News8 confirms that it has reached capacity and LBJ High School is the next location to be filled. I also noticed an Austin Fire Department truck with signs indicating they had hurricane evacuee information at the intersection just south of the Delco Center on US 183.

Here’s hoping all of our houses are spared. I’ve got some trees and a rickety fence that might not survive 60-100mph winds.

Update (1:25PM CDT): Current forecasts have Rita veering a fair amount east of us. It’s bad news for Louisiana and southeast Texas, but it probably means that we’re not going to get much more than a better- than-average rainstorm around here. I have to echo some of the other sentiments I’ve seen from local bloggers. Austinites need to chill. There’s no reason for us to be running around hoarding water, gas and plywood.

Austin Relocation: Take 2

Parts of Houston are being evacuated along with Galveston in anticipation of Hurricane Rita. [from Houston Metblogs] In contrast to the Katrina scenario (and apparently violating the laws of time and space), Rick Perry has declared Texas a disaster area before a drop of rain from Rita touches the state.

In light of the traffic we might see coming up 290 and 71, is it a bit premature to close the convention center shelter this Friday?


These are like Shorties from Largehearted Boy.

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