Archive for October, 2005

Down Ballot

While most people with a shred of decency, common sense, and legal pragmatism are focused on defeating state constitutional amendment #2, there are several other items on the ballot for your consideration. There are, of course, no shortage of amendments to that legal etch-a-sketch known as the Texas State Constitution. Aside from the populist hackle-raising content of Prop. 2, though, most of the other amendments are the usual esoteric bullshit that any responsible and effective government would contend with through legislation or policy. You too can feel like a paid government representative by reviewing the summary and analysis made available through the House Research Organization and the Texas Legislative Council before making your decision.

Nestled below the state amendments on the Travis County ballot are three bond elections, whose pragmatic and useful content stands in stark contrast to the other ballot items. Among these is Bond Proposition #2, which is to approve $62 million for the purchase and improvement of parks on both sides of Travis County. The most notable portion of this initiative is the purchase of Reimer’s Ranch property along Hamilton Pool Rd, which will ensure this haven for local climbers and outdoor enthusiasts will remain in the public realm rather than falling victim to future development.

Ironically enough, Bond Proposition #1 contains funding to redesign Hamilton Pool Road. The quaint Hill Country drive, a favorite with bicyclists and sojourner types, has already seen dramatic traffic increases out to Hwy 12 due to growth in Dripping Springs, but these funds specifically address the stretch beyond Hwy 12, where LCRA’s sprawl-inducing waterline will create an inevitable traffic snarl. Oh, what a tangled web we weave …

The usual endorsements are also available from the Chronicle and the Statesman.

Sparkling on Riverside

Ever-changing East Riverside welcomes the new Diamond Ballroom, just inaugurated this past weekend. Austin salseros have sorely missed Miguel’s La Bodega, gone from Colorado Street. The Diamond Ballroom is in part of the old Riverside 8 movie complex. The entrance is in back, behind the Joy East. Although beer, wine, and set-ups are available, this is not a bar. To keep the riffraff out, a dress code is strictly enforced and there’s a ten-dollar cover charge. And by the way, Manuel’s downtown is also now featuring Latin dance events with live music Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 11 p.m. The DJ music that’s around at various venues does not replace the scene at La Bodega. Copa has DJ music during the slow days of the week, but goes live on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, sometimes bringing in very hot bands direct from Puerto Rico, for which people come into Austin from all over Texas and sometimes from other states. The Diamond Ballroom opened with musica tropical, but it sounds as though there may be old-school Tejano bands to be booked as well. There will be grand array of music, including Yayo Castillo, Manuel “Cowboy” Donley, and Little Joe, on November 11, at any rate. The Diamond e-mail list promises to keep the interested informed.

ACL Festival Announces 2006 Dates &ndash Not Budging on 3rd Weekend of September

Why is the Festival not moved to October?

We have to pick a weekend that doesn’t have other competing major events, such as a University of Texas home football game. Logistically, the city is incapable of handling both ACL Festival and other activities that draw a large number of tourists on the same weekend because of limitations on hotel capacity and downtown parking facilities. That leaves a narrow window of availability in late September through early October.

The traditional touring season for bands is May through September. By holding the event in September, we can route bands through Austin as part of their tours and get the bands we want that make our lineups the most exciting and diverse in the industry.”

Metroblogging correspondent Andy adds this:

I was busy hacking the ACL Festival site, and found this additional FAQ buried in a satirical folder:

“More ACL Fest in September? If the heat doesn’t kill me, the dust will. For the love of God, why?”


Willie: “Texas Roads Suck”

In the November 3rd issue, Willie Nelson talks to Rolling Stone about his latest venture BioWillie (which makes biodiesel fuels). When asked what he wants his pal gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman to focus on in the upcoming election, here’s what he said:

What Kinky oughta talk about are these damn roads in Texas. We used to have the smoothest roads in the world. I used to be able to be asleep at night and know when we’ve crossed into Texas from Arkansas, because the roads got smoother. Now we’ve got the worst fucking roads in the world.

Truckers seem to disagree.

Update: There’s some interesting fodder for the rumor mill about Austin’s transportation planning by Julio in the comments: “The Austin District has the state’s worst transportation planning. Their former district engineer hoarded his state money and expected the feds to pay for everything. That’s why there is only one lane on the flyover from IH 35 north to US 183 north. The district is also quick to back off a project if a group of wealthy politically-connected white locals complain. That’s why LOOP 1 doesn’t loop.” There’s some more Loop 1 (Mopac) history here and here. I suppose he’s referring to former Austin district engineer Bill Garbade, who was succeeded by current district engineer Bob Daigh in September 2003.

Twelfth Street Overpass: Hotbed of Activism

For the second time in the past 18 months, I or someone in my family has noticed two or more people standing on the 12th street overpass on I-35, holding a banner over the railing with “Say no to gay marriage” or something to similar effect.

I posted about it last April when I saw it and wondered if it was legal to protest in this way. Sure, it’s probably covered under free speech, but it also slows down traffic, which trumps everything else in my opinion. Nevermind that I disagree with the sentiment. Nevermind that the amendment to which they’re undoubtedly referring is worded poorly, opening the door for arguments like this. Nevermind that the amendment simply re-iterates something that’s already illegal and is explicitly writing discrimination against a particular group into the state constitution. I’m annoyed at anyone who makes the commute on I-35 any worse than it already is.

And as a friend posted a few days ago from a conversation she overheard: “If gay marriage is a threat to your marriage, then your marriage sucked anyway.”


The temptation to bake is irresistible now that the weather has changed. The oven has hardly cooled down. So far there have been batches of from-scratch pizza with various toppings, poppyseed dinner rolls made from the leftover pizza dough and shaped into knots, and cornbread containing serranos and jalape

Austin Welcomes The KKK to City Hall!

Join the Ku Klux Klan at the Austin City Hall on November 5 for a rally to support Proposition 2, the Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex unions, and get your free hatemonger t-shirt! The city has reserved the Austin City Hall’s south plaza on Lavaca and Cesar Chavez from 1-3 pm on Saturday, November 5.

I love free speech and all, so I guess it means I’ll be out there protesting or probably getting arrested or something. Great, what a way to ruin a weekend.

Don’t we know that the most recent KKK demonstration in Ohio resulted in a riot? And Ohio is about a bajillion times more conservative than Austin. My advice? Stay away from downtown on November 5. You should probably just catch the results later on CNN.

Mary Stuart Masterson To Attend Screening of “The Sisters” Tonight

The Austin Film Festival just announced that Mary Stuart Masterson will be attending tonight’s screening of “The Sisters” at the Regal Arbor Theater tonight at 7:00 pm.

DIRT: Blood, Sweat, Tears, Mud, Dirt and Beer

It’s hard not to leave the documentary feature winner of this year’s Austin Film Festival,“DIRT,” without thinking “This is ‘Hands on a Hard Body’ on a dirt race track.” Director and producer Jeff Bowden (from Dallas) even admits that he was influenced by that other famous film. Both movies feature the inhabitants of a town in Texas devoting all their time and energy to win a competition most people wouldn’t waste their time with. In “DIRT,” it’s the 2002 World Class Street Stock Championship at the Devil’s Bowl in Mesquite, Texas. Most of the competitors live paycheck to paycheck and pour all the extra money they have into their only passion—racing their beat-up stock cars over a muddy track. Each of their stories contains a window into aspects of the human condition.

In car #42, you have Gayla Jones, a homemaker who wants to prove to a chauvinistic bunch that she is the equal of any man in a race car. Her husband Andy, who also races, watches “Days of Thunder” every week to get psyched up. Coming between them is Jimmy Quick Jr., who owns Gayla’s car, and who credits her for saving his life (his own father died racing at the Devil’s Bowl when he was a boy).

Though one might initially write off these characters as rednecks from Wal-Mart nation (one character even has a “Redneck Wind Chime” consisting of Coors cans on strings), eventually you come to see your own dreams in their experiences. Who hasn’t hated their job? Who hasn’t wanted to be the best at something—anything? If you want to catch this before it joins the ranks of video rental legends, it will be showing again at the IMAX theater at the Texas History Museum this Wednesday at 7:15.

View the trailer.

Fistful of cards

A traveling Austinite needs a neighbor to remove certain items from his or her yard, entry-way, doorknob, screen door, driveway, windshield, and other such locations so that they don’t serve as telltale signs that the inhabitant is away from home. This week, I’ve picked up free copies of Rumbo, pizza takeout menus, fliers for tree services, information about the coming elections, and a bundle of business cards.

The cards left at this place and at the neighbor’s place all had the same phone numbers and last names on them. Each card, no matter what the service, promised “Free Estimates.” The first names were not all the same: the card offering “House Cleaning: Honest and Reliable” had a female name, but the same two telephone numbers as the rest. In addition to the card offering house-cleaning services, at this establishment were left two other cards: (1) “Concrete Work: Driveways . Patios . Sidewalks . Retaining Walls” and (2) “Trash Hauling & Garage Cleanout: Tree Trimming and Fences.”

The neighbor was left just one card by these people: “Tree Trimming Specialist: Also General Lawn Service.”

If only I’d seen who left these. Whoever did drop them off may have more than these four types of cards. I know that our driveway is cracked and that tree roots have lifted parts of the sidewalk and that there’s a low-hanging tree limb and that one of the fences needs new pickets and that anyone can look down back and see that what passes for a garage needs help. But did they look in a window and note untidiness?

Why did the neighbor get the offer of lawn work? What’s deficient about his St. Augustine? Maybe it’s that he edges just a couple of times a season. Or that his elm leaves are falling.

Just how many kinds of cards do these enterprising card-leaving people have? Offering how many services? Just wondering.

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