Archive for February, 2007

SXSW Music 2007 Wristbands on sale now!!

I just got the text message from SXSW.

Waterloo Records (NW corner of 6th and Lamar) is selling SXSW wristbands as of right now. 2 per person. Cash or credit cards.

Don’t kill anyone on the way down there.

Statesman Invents a Word

402468745_87886ae12a_m.jpgThe Statesman tends to be a punching bag around here and, with headlines like this one found on the front page yesterday, they’re going to have a hard time shaking that perception. They’re now inventing words just like the current President that we inflicted on the world.

I’m not sure which language they’re using for this headline, but Webster tells me that “minicity” isn’t a word in the English language. The online version of the article repeats the mistake. I’m too lazy to take a screen shot in case they change it. Who knows if they’ll correct it, but Google helpfully suggests that maybe I meant “mini city” when I did a search. It doesn’t stop them from presenting the Statesman article as the second hit on the search for the word.

Blowed up pretty good

DSC_3708Ahhh, Intel building. We’ve had some good times, haven’t we? The excitement of a high tech headquarters downtown, the concern over city funding thrown at you, the anger of your abandonment, the wry amusement over your continued existence …

It all came to a close this deceptively chilly morning. Several hundred Austinites gathered around 3rd and Guadalupe to see the official button pushing and subsequent choreographed destruction. The crowd was giddy with anticipation, even cheering the towing services and motorcycle cops. The pre-show entertainment continued with an incoherent citizen rant and police showdown, providing a few sparks prior to the big bang.

The show went down around 7:30am, with local demolition duffer Michael McGill granted the opportunity to push the button (actually, the ceremonial device looked more like one of the old time push-boxes Wile E. Coyote might have ordered from ACME). An initial rush of explosions seemed to have little impact before a second wave sent the structure falling in on itself. Surprisingly, huge chunks of the building remained standing, making me wonder if we’ll all be back next weekend to watch Ramon and Sons finish the job.

I guess Intel is more resilient than we thought.

Update (11:20am 2.25.07): Despite the awkward remnants left jutting three stories high, a spokesperson claims the Intel Implosion went as planned. Cue Pee-Wee Herman …

Empty horizons and big booms


There were two preliminary reports heard across the river, starting at shortly after seven o’clock this morning. The real thing happened later and produced several window-rattling concussions, louder than the noises that used to be made when Bergstrom was active and the military planes routinely broke the sound barrier. Farewell, Intel shell. Many of us have grown fond of you. We could envision you as a dormitory for the homeless, with barriers and shelter against the winds and the danger of falling. You would have made a great hanging garden, with plants trailing from the edges. You were a fine venue for arts projects. The horizon looks empty without you.

Update: A few of my toy-camera pictures of the results of the detonations may be seen in miniature stacked to the right on this page; the Austin Flickr group shows more, and a search of all of Flickr on “Austin” and “Intel” will show yet additional pix.

Barack Obama Rallies Austin

Barack Obama Austin 2007As I walked down Bouldin Ave toward Auditorium Shores, a misty rain began falling. However, it did not dampen the air of expectancy I felt in others streaming through my neighborhood. The mood was electric. A crowd of 15,000 to 22,000 gathered chanting, “Obama! Obama!” White, black, Hispanic, and Asian–not just university students, but the gray-haired and young parents holding babies and middle-aged wives.

The band (can someone tell me who they were–I missed the introduction) set the tone by reminding the crowd that they are not Katrina refugees, not refugees at all, but Americans. A young woman introduced the presidential hopeful by recalling her own response to Katrina. She volunteered when Austin opened the Convention Center to 5,000 displaced people from New Orleans. She listened to their stories. She became friends with one young woman and has continued to be her mentor. But, she added, in giving it was she who gained.

And that is the foundation of Barack Obama’s message. He told the crowd, the easiest thing in the world is to be cynical–to sit back and say, that’s just the way it is. I can’t do anything about it. And from that feeling of hopelessness springs the response–I’ll put up my defenses and take care of me and mine.

But, he continued, there is another response to the war, poverty, hunger, and environmental problems that saturate our perception of the world via the news. America was built by people who had the audacity to hope–who dreamed big dreams for the country and pulled together to make them happen. This campaign is not about him, Obama said. It’s about us. Do we dare to dream what can be? And work together to fulfill our dreams?

Toward the end of his speech, the sun struggled to break through the clouds.

Amy Stewart at Book People

If your tastes run more to Flora-rama than Obama-rama, you should check out former Austinite and garden writer Amy Stewart. She appears at Book People tonight to give a reading from her latest book, the acclaimed behind-the-scenes look at the flower industry Flower Confidential. Flower Confidential, Ms. Stewart’s third book, debuted #31 on the New York Times bestseller list.

From the blurb:

“What has been gained–and what has been lost–in tinkering with Mother Nature? Should we care that roses have lost their scent? Or that most flowers are sprayed with pesticides? In a global marketplace, is there such a thing as a socially responsible flower? At every turn, Stewart discovers a fascinating intersection of nature and technology, of sentiment and commerce. You’ll never look at a cut flower the same way again.”

Date: Friday, February 23, 2007 07:00 PM
Book People
603 N. Lamar (Map: 6th and Lamar)
AUSTIN TX 78703

Spring fever

narcissi.jpgRobins were seen yesterday in East Austin. The mockingbirds were pestering them, but the migrants seemed to be finding enough food to fuel their northward flight. Some years, the robins all seem to fly over to the east; other years, some are to be seen west of IH-35. Cedar waxwings are everywhere, as well. They no doubt have much to do with the spread of non-native waxleaf ligustrum in our nature preserves. Nevertheless, it is a pretty sight to see a berry-laden tree alive with waxwings, and they do feast on juniper berries, too.

All those of us who love spring-flowering bulbs are embarking on some of the peak weeks for enjoying these delights. These no-work treats repay the tiny effort it takes to drop them into the ground and they can always be dug up and moved on for planting in another home. A bonus is that the squirrels don’t like to eat bulbs of the daffodil-narcissus-jonquil family. This is a picture taken using the toy camera this morning before it was really light. These colors are so beautiful on an overcast day. We’ve opened some of our windows; they’ll be closed again if the weather turns, but it’s delightful to have the scent of hyacinths, daffodils and narcissi, cyclamens, and violas come wafting in. It’s spring’s lease, not summer’s, that hath all too short a date.

There’a new edition of Garden Bulbs for the South, by Scott Ogden. The original edition’s in library branches all over town. If you have any tiny little corner of earth in which to dig, this is the book that will tell you what not only works, but also what seldom fails and returns year after year, when it comes to flowers of this type for our peculiar conditions.

Austin Toros Coach Dennis Johnson Dies

Wow. I just saw the news on Statesman and News8Austin that Dennis Johnson, coach of the NBA Development League Austin Toros, died today at the age of only 52.

Anybody my age remembers DJ as point guard for the Celtics. I’d been meaning to get down to the Convention Center and check them out, especially with DJ at the helm. I guess I’ve missed my chance. My condolences to his family and the team.

A royal party

Lucky me, I snagged a ticket to the Lion King cast party and dragged one of my best friends, Brandon, along for the ride.

They had it at Ringside at Sullivan’s, which is beautiful and high class- I will definitely go back. CUTE bartenders kept the drinks coming (baby’s first Cosmo!) and muy caliente Cienfuegos played through the evening. I’ve got to say, they are the best latin/cuban (pardon my ignorance as to the exact genre) band I’ve ever heard. I really loved their music.

The cast was really sweet! I met Ta’Rea Campbell- the actress who plays Nala, one of the boys who plays Young Simba, and the tutor who travels with the children. I told Ta’Rea and the tutor to hit up the shopping here, because there is no place like Austin when it comes to shopping…I said to check out SoCo, especially my favorites Goodie Two Shoes and New Bohemia. They’re going to be here for six weeks, they might as well drop some cash here and there!

The best part, though, was when I was watching the show beforehand and I noticed something familiar about Zazu. I thought I’d heard him somewhere before….sure enough, it was Tim McGeever, who had a wonderful stint as Mozart in St. Ed’s production of Amadeus awhile back. I was so excited to meet him, he’s so talented!

All in all it was a perfect night- a fantastic show, and a wonderful party.

Last Chance for St.Nicholas at HPT

Hyde Park Theatre is giving you one last shot at checking out St. Nicholas this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The original run was last November and there were several performances during Frontera Fest this month. I caught one of the Frontera performances and wasn’t disappointed. Ken Webster’s experiences in all aspects of theater (acting, directing, running HPT) inform his performance of a cynical Irish theater critic who thinks he’s seen it all until he meets up with a group of vampires. The dark comedy is engrossing with a minimal amount of lighting and set design. It’s all Ken and he does an amazing job. If you
don’t get out for much local theater (and, honestly, I don’t), you should get off your ass and check this one out.

This special return engagement runs at 8:00 PM Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, February 22 – 24, 2007.

Thursday is Pay What You Can Night; Friday and Saturday tickets are $15 ($13 for students, seniors, and ACOT members). Hyde Park Theatre is located at 511 W. 43rd Street. For reservations call 479-PLAY (7529). Off-street parking during evening performances available at Kenneth’s Hair Salon and the Hyde Park Church of Christ.

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