Archive for April, 2007

Meteoric flash

Belatedly, today’s NYT pays tribute to Michael Malone, perhaps better known to many as Rollo Banks (April 30; byline Dennis Hevesi; sign-in may be required). This piece differs from the one in the local daily and the several remembrances in the Chron in that it sheds more light on his role as an innovator in both the art and the business of personal adornment via the tattoo. Somebody will know for certain, but I’d guess that the client for whom he created a “nearly-full-body tattoo” described in today’s article is Prince, of Austin’s peerless Atomic City.

Update: Former Austinite Ed Ward’s reminiscence reports that the fabulous adornment described was created for Prince.

Garden Communities; Community Gardens

The Sustainable Food Center has organized a garden tour today of 5 community gardens, 2 school gardens, and one co-op garden.

  • Alamo Community Garden , 2101 Alamo St .
  • East 29th St Coop Garden , 1202 B East 29th St
  • Deep Eddy Community Garden , 300-1/2 Atlanta
  • El Jardin Alegre Community Garden , 1801 E 2nd St
  • Open Door Preschool Garden , 3804 Cherrywood Rd
  • Rhonda’s Montessori School Garden , 4300 Mount Vernon Dr
  • South Austin Community Garden , Cumberland & S.5th
  • Sunshine Community Garden (a project of Greenlights for Non-Profit Success, Inc.), 4814 Sunshine Drive

Garden Tour Map

There will be gardeners at each site from 11am – 3pm to go over the history and lead the tour of their garden. It is a ‘self-guided’ tour so you can choose when and which gardens you want to see. At some of the sites there will be, free seeds and plants, and short gardening demonstrations. Any donations will go towards the garden.

Free and fun: dragon boat races

Take along some breakfast (or find some delicious food at the festival) and enjoy this fresh spring day on the shores of Town Lake, at Festival Beach. From 10 this morning until 3 this afternoon, watch the races and take in the associated activities. This event has plenty to offer for children as well, who usually seem to enjoy the demonstrations of martial arts especially, and it makes a fine excuse to be ambling out and around. The promotional Web site doesn’t include all the activities, but most years there’s also an array of dance programs. The races are a real exercise in teamwork, usually requiring twenty paddlers, a steersperson, and a drummer to beat to set the strokes.

Impeachy Keen

If you’re not going to be painting your face or forming a drum circle over at Eeyore’s 44th Annual Birthday Party today, you can still celebrate your Question Authority roots by participating in Spell IMPEACH Day at the Zilker disc golf course–across from the Botanical Gardens. Actions are taking place all over the country–the giant IMPEACH will be spelled out in human bodies.

Today, April 28th from noon to 2PM…so you’ll still have time to march over to Eeyore’s afterward.

MacPlanter

These days it’s the in thing for towns to have some kind of themed public art project where different businesses and landmarks display instances of the theme. In Austin’s case, it’s Guitartown.

While Guitartown speaks to Austin’s heritage as “Live Music Capital of the World”, Austin has other traditions to draw on. We’re a hi-tech town. And we’re an eco-friendly town.

Austin writer Julie Ardery, of the Human Flower Project, reports on the Mac Planter…computer cases recycled into flower planters. Those colorful Mac cases look charming with petunias tumbling over them.

Although it’s true that the idea sprouted in New York, Austin could own this.

Both sides of a love story

I got to see UT’s Plan II students put on “The Last Five Years” tonight and goodness gracious, I was very impressed. My best friend Brandon and I are pretty much obsessed with the musical by Jason Robert Brown- this would be our second time to see it. The first time we drove out to Abilene to see a production done for some reason that was attended by maybe, maybe 8 other people that night. But it’s the score that moves me, the lyrics are gorgeous but Brown’s score is just perfection.

Anyhow, we were really excited to see it, especially since they’d called upon a full ensemble for the band- a bass, piano, violin, cello, guitar- it was lovely. Robine Morrison shone as Cathy, once she got to the great, funny, meaty Cathy songs and she got to power through the glory notes Sheri Renee Scott beat into submission so effortlessly on the soundtrack; and Brandon Stackhouse was congenial and poignant to where I actually felt kinda bad for Jamie at the end, that jerk. Jamie, not Brandon. A very good show all around.

The show’s got one more performance on Saturday, its $5 at the door and you can read more about it here.

Long and miserable

Former Austinite Adrienne Martini has read our post about her book and professes that Austin is one of her favorite places on the planet. As a member of a household enduring the summers without air-conditioning, I find it easy to concede that her characterization of Austin summers isn’t unjust.

Eeyore Turns 44

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I don’t have to tell you that this Saturday is Eeyore’s 44th Birthday Party in Pease Park from 11am until dusk.

I don’t have to tell you that the concessions benefit local charities or that the beer will flow courtesy of local brewers like Real Ale, Live Oak and Independence. I don’t have to tell you about the costume contest or that you’re likely to see a little more of some of your fellow Austinites than you’d like. I definitely won’t mention the drum circle, the lines for the port-a-potties or that parking will suck. And I won’t tell you that I’ll be somewhere over by the basketball court under a tree for most of the day until my wife makes us go home.

Forget about xeriscapes

One of the predominant new and fashionable styles is the clear-cut landscape. From those who favor this approach and who have been willing to answer a question or two, I’ve learned that some of the reasons advanced for ridding a landscape of all trees and shrubs are: (1) they just plain need to go, (2) leaves fall from them, (3) they shade the lawn, (4) where they are is where more lawn needs to go, (5) they’d drop debris into that new swimming pool that’s going to take up the entire yard out back, (6) we like to keep our SUV clean, (7) we need room to expand [usually triple] our living area, and (8) it’s time to subdivide and build in the side yard. But, wait! A new double-wide paved driveway requires no water to maintain it. Presto! It’s a xeriscape. We came home for supper to find eighty years of landscape and habitat next door on their way to utter destruction. We’re given to understand that very little of what’s living and perpendicular is to be left standing. Some of those trees were tall enough and expansive enough to offer shade to neighbors in every direction at one time of the day or another. They had withstood all storms, including last night’s. The druid in me feels very, very sad.

Step away from that mailbox

Take a deep breath. If you own real property in Travis County, think before you look at what the letter carrier brought today. Dropping by briefly at noon, thoughtlessly we grabbed our mail. Right on top was the envelope with the dread return address of the Travis Central Appraisal District. The even more fearsome information contained in the enclosure, the 2007 appraised value, is already up on line at the TCAD site. I’ve been checking there frequently, but not frequently enough to know exactly when the data went up. The new valuation always seems a little less real and a little more mild when previewed on line. It’s hard to avoid the involuntary sharp intake of breath when the envelope is opened and it’s all there in black and white. It gives such a warm feeling to know that one’s property taxes go to be managed by the AISD, headed by a superintendent whose contract was just renewed and who’s eager to close schools within walking distance and with grounds covered with portable buildings (those add-on eyesore class-boxes filling the schoolyards are needed because the old neighborhood schools are so “under-enrolled”) and by the City of Austin, which can’t be bothered to post a telephone directory on line and which keeps slush funds (for once the editor of the local daily called it just right) from which to draw big bucks (to the tune, we told, of $11,000) to pay for retirement parties for favored civil servants. ACC appears to use its tax money reasonably well. The healthcare district at least means that those outside the city limits pay a share of the costs. And the Travis County commissioners have at last seen fit to repair some of the damage done by abolitions and by bad amalgamations of some voter precincts. Anyhow, here we are, nearly a third of the way through the tax year and already running behind on saving for the property-tax bill. Everybody pays this one, whether directly, or, as tenants, indirectly.

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