Archive for October, 2006

Party of nothing?

pdrgell.jpg This image is copyrighted by “PARTI DE RIEN 1988, 112A W. North-Loop, Austin, TX. 78751.” It is hinged on the side and is entitled “Sunday afternoon, bus stop.” In observance of the copyright, I’m not giving the dimensions of this work printed or silkscreened on good paper or showing the size of the margin beyond the black border. The images as I recall them are all based on photographs, employed in a solarized black-and-white form. This is derived from a single photograph, but others are montages of more than one location. Some seem to have additional hand-applied water-color.

I’d love to know more about “parti de rien,” who consigned these hand-made cards to Congress Avenue Books and at times to Laguna Gloria Museum downtown. There may even be an artist’s name on one of these miniature works of art, but this is the first one found as I try to organize my Austin ephemera with an eye to taking better care of some and donating other items to the Austin History Center.

The structure depicted is at the southeast corner of Sixth and Colorado, I recall, perhaps erroneously. I loved Gellman’s. Among many, many other items, it sold hats, leather goods, First Holy Communion dresses and veils, and Finesilver khaki twill trousers made in San Antonio. Finesilver made work-clothes and also did some manufacturing for the military, I think. Finesilver garments were cheap and they lasted forever. Sixth Street was for a long time home to several conjunto bars, and the staff of Gellman’s spoke Spanish.

This is not my favorite Parti de Rien item, but I think that, if I run across them, I may upload additional images in the hope of learning something about their creator. I’d have more, but I sent a lot of them to other people. They sold for two dollars apiece. If anyone knows anything about these, please comment.

Hickory exchange

The squirrels have been at it again, this time chewing up telephone stuff on the pole so that dial tones begin disappearing shortly after a downpour begins and don’t return until whatever the squirrels have allowed to get wet dries out. Even if there is a dial tone, there’s a crackle on the line so that it’s difficult for people at the other end to hear and almost impossible to send a fax. I thought it was just us, something to do with enjoying original everything in our house, but, no, it had been happening to people for a couple of blocks around. Some of us didn’t know that others of us were experiencing this until it was revealed on the neighborhood listserv. When I swung by around lunchtime yesterday to talk to the crew working on the problem and add us to the list of the affected, I was entertained to learn that at least some of them still refer to areas of Austin by the old exchange names. My neighborhood was traditionally HIckory (for instance, instead of giving your telephone number as 443-0000, it would be HIckory 3-0000) and I think I can remember that there was an EVergreen. I know that, if I were to look at an old telephone directory at the Austin History Center, I’d see others. It was certainly easier to remember telephone numbers when there were just five numerals, along with two letters, instead of seven. The names live on in the world of telephony.

Smoke on the horizon

We attended a womens’ soccer game yesterday at St. Ed’s. The Hilltoppers beat the MSU-Billings Yellowjackets in a second overtime sudden death, 1-0. You know you were dying to find out the result of that match. It was a beautiful afternoon, but dumbass me forgot to wear sunscreen, so now I look like a red raccoon thanks to my sunglasses. Let the peeling begin!

Driving west on 71 from the game towards a late lunch at Rudy’s BBQ on 360, we noticed a large plume of black smoke on the horizon to the north. We assumed it was north of 183, maybe farther, and resolved to watch the news to find out the source. The Statesman says it was a house on Tisdale near 183 and Lamar. Apparently, it was a remodel gone wrong and no one was injured. The firefighters on scene were delayed in putting out the fire because of a downed electric line.

Whistling in the dark

The source of the sound couldn’t be located. It had been out there intermittently in the dead of night for weeks. The whistle wasn’t the same as the one used by the neighboring tenant whose dog doesn’t respond to a call, to a whistle, or (of course not) to vehement hand-claps.

We’re seeing lots of property-stockpiling, absentee ownership, demolition, and remodeling along the lines of replacing four duplexes with two super-giant one-family houses. The neighborhood has more and more unoccupied properties. In addition to luring prowlers seeking old and new building materials, this depopulation creates an incentive for nonce uses of property.

And that’s what turns out to have been occurring. As I found out, the whistling was the summoning of two large pit bulls, one dark and one white. They’ve been turned loose to gallop around the yard behind one of the unoccupied houses. When they’re apparently under leash control, it’s just an appearance, because the “collars” are twice as large as the circumference of their necks and the leads are longer than what’s lawful. I just stared, and the dog-accompanier said, “I carry bags for them.” But obviously they’re not used in our adjoining yard, where we’ve stepped in large, steaming piles of excrement. At least the mystery is solved. For us. The absentees may never know that there was one.

You too can be a space soldier…

Even though I couldn’t quite call myself a ‘struggling musician” or a “starving artist”, I still consider myself a “dirt broke workin’ girl.” Given that self-classification, I’m always on the hunt for good cheap entertainment. I can only afford the $12 tickets to the Alamo so often, and paying extreme cover charges to see live music puts quite a dent in my budget spreadsheet (which isn’t really a spreadsheet at all…its more of a running tab I keep in the corner of my brain).

Hence the reason I found myself, along with 3 other tight-for-cash friends, suiting up in heavy LED-ridden gear that smelled like the sticky fingers of greasy children. Lazer Tag. Or, more appropriately: BLAZER TAG!

Since Thursday night is 2-for-1 night for students, we all rifled through our respective junk drawers and old purses to find our more-than-expired student ids. After a quick pit stop at Dans Hamburgers (which, by the way, was of mediocre quality…but the quality of people watching more than compensated for any lack of burger wonder), we fought over 4 lanes of traffic to end up at Blazer Tag- an asymmetrical grey building with an ominously vacant parking lot on the south side of 290.

Unilateral name-change

First, she disappeared my precinct. Then, she moved the polling place, not once but twice. And somewhere in there, we were sent voter cards with the wrong information about precinct location. Now, she has taken it upon herself to change my name. After decades of voting with the name that’s on all my legal documents, I now have a voter-registration card bearing a shortened form of my name that I never, ever use. Thank you, Dana DeBeauvoir. I’m not going to try to change it until after Election Day, because I want to vote early and I want to be as certain as I can that my vote will count. But if anybody should ask me for additional identification at the polling place, I won’t have any that matches my new voter card. Yes; it’s true that the commissioners’ court voted on the precinct amalgamation. And changes in the polling places are reported to have something to do with the Federal disability act, although people in wheelchairs have voted in the old precinct without trouble for as long as I can remember. And it was probably some clerk in her office who took it upon him- or herself to make a shorter name for me. But it’s her responsibility. When you mess with my name, you mess with me! And if I were to change my name, which I don’t care to do, it wouldn’t be to somebody else’s choice.

Update: The saga continues and continues and continues, now with installments 2, 3, 4, and 5. . .

comparatively speaking….

It seems just like yesterday when I was walking down the sidewalk of my hometown dodging kids on bikes, American flags hanging from store fronts and plugging my ears from the sound of old farm tractors roaring through the blinking red light that was the center of town.
Now as I walk down the streets of my new city I’m hustled for change, sidestepping people in business suits talking into their phone with their head down, jaywalking and tripping over uneven sidewalks.
My beloved restaurant, Barney’s Kitchen, has been replaced with a Mexican food place with a name I couldn’t even begin to pronounce. My Dairy Queen has been replaced with Ben and Jerry’s and Papazonno’s Pizza has turned into a $30 Mangia pizza.
The internet is now wireless and

Fall frivolity, free as you want it to be

cucurb.jpgTwo of the freebies will tempt those there to spend a bit in a good cause. South Austin’s photogenic pumpkin patch one block east of Congress at 205 East Monroe, does sell those pumpkins, today and other Saturdays from 10 am to 8 pm, Sundays from noon to 8 pm, and weekdays for as long as they last from 2 pm to 8 pm. Your bucks benefit Grace UMC and, through Pumpkins USA, the Navajo Nation agricultural enterprises in the Four Corners region. Starting at 8 am today, St. Iggie of The South Austin H-E-B (St. Ignatius, Martyr, 126 West Oltorf) will serve up food, music from local groups such as Los Texas Wranglers, games, pony rides, and much, much more at its free fund-raising jamaica, just past the Tips house branch of Wells Fargo, off South Congress at Oltorf. Anything spent at this fall festival goes to programs and activities of the church and its associated school. Bring your camera along to the Austin Art Car parade that starts today at 11:30 am and wheels along from 300 Congress downtown, all the way to the Congress Avenue Baptist Church (1611 South Congress, at East Monroe), just a block away from that pumpkin patch we mentioned earlier. This is the fourth year. If the past is any guide, there’ll be two- and three-wheelers of several kinds, not just cars and pickups. The “Car-nival” afterward will be located behind the church. Events will run until 4 pm. I love a triple-play of events within walking distance of one another.

Happy 70th Birthday Becker Elementary

AISD Becker Elementary Mayor Will Wynn signed the proclamation: October 20, 2006 is officially Becker Elementary School day. The neighborhood school, built on the site of the former Bouldin mansion, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year despite efforts by AISD Superintendent Pat Forgione to close it last March. Forgione was present at today’s ceremony and, although not on the program, stood up to say a few words. They did not seem specific to the occasion–merely a “Let’s all work together to make Austin schools great.”–which came off as a slap in the face to the parents, teachers, staff, and Bouldin neighborhood association members who are all working hard to keep our school the center of our community.

In stark contrast City Council Member Lee Leffingwell, a Becker Elementary School alumnus, said what the crowd wanted to hear: if we are going to build a vibrant livable city center then we need schools like Becker. Why build schools out in the suburbs that we have to bus kids to? And why, I personally want to know, has my polling place been moved from Becker (where I could walk to it) someplace else where I must drive to vote?

Under a cloudless sky, the children recited the Pledge of Allegiance (in English and Spanish). The Travis High School band played the national anthem. Visiting dignitaries gave their speeches while the students tried to keep still. The Travis High School Mariachi band serenaded “Happy Birthday” as blue and gold balloons soared skyward. Then one spirited second grader led the school cheer and cake was served. Tours of the school and of the Green Classroom next door followed.

Happy Birthday, Becker Elementary. And many more.

The celebration continues Saturday, October 21, 2006. Stop by 906 W. Milton from 4PM-8PM and see why our Bouldin neighborhood is more than just an overflow parking lot for Zilker Park concerts.

Truffin’ It

Joy of my life- my favorite Austin restaurant, ASTI, is having another White Truffle Weekend this weekend! I’m so happy because I thought I’d missed it and after seeing Wednesday’s Top Chef season premiere, I’m in a gourmet mood.
From the email:

Menu to include Malpec Oysters on halfshell with Truffle Zabaglione & Truffle($30)-Warm Endive Salad with Fontina Cheese & poached Egg with Truffles($28)-Chicken Braciola with Soft Polenta & Mascarpone with Truffles($48)-Housemade Potato Gnocchi with Butter Parmesan & Truffles.
Truffles will be shaved tableside for the true experience and up close look at the Truffle d’Alba.
This prized Piedmontese Fungi is one of the most amazing culinary ingredients-and one of the most expensive at $2000 a pound.

I might have to live on Easy Mac (manna for the collegiate masses) for a couple weeks after this, but something tells me it’s going to be worth it for a lovely evening- The Prestige is finally out and I get to eat truffles with my most beloved foodie! Fun. :o)

Asti Trattoria
Reservations at 451.1218

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