Archive for May, 2007

Naturally nondescript

That’s the head of hair with which most of us are endowed, both as to color and as to texture. But some sport exuberant curly hair, and Austin is information headquarters for those people. It’s been some time since Austin’s NaturallyCurly.com first attracted national attention. The most recent coverage, in today’s NYT, reports that this Web portal has been so successful in attracting advertising that it has now also attracted an infusion of venture capital (“Bad Hair Days Lead Pair to Web Incubator and Venture Capital,” May 27, byline Bob Tedeschi). Affiliated are CurlyKids.com and the e-commerce site CurlMart. CurlMart even has a special range of products for the curly-haired “modern mad,” promising that these will “endorse his masculiity.” I bet that a lot of the first visitors to these sites live right here in high-humidity Austin. I’m always surprised at how much longer even wavy hair, not just curly hair, seems in low-humidity places like mountain New Mexico, where, as it dries, its own weight pulls it straighter.

Illuminating the darkness

Every evening, all the year round unless it’s pouring down rain and sometimes even then, we sit outdoors for a while in the darkness after supper. It’s been years and years and years since there’ve been any, but last night we were very pleased to see several fireflies. Someone in Houston maintains a set of firefly pages, reporting that there’s been a decline there over the years. One of the possible reasons advanced for the decline is brightness of street lamps. This is discounted, but it is true that we stopped seeing them once a new luminaire was mounted, and it’s on the fritz right now and we’ve suddenly started hearing more owls. I don’t know why some call our evening-brighteners fireflies and some call them lightning bugs and I don’t know why they vanished and I don’t know why they’ve reappeared, but I hope that we’ll never again go so long without seeing any.

Wheel dealing

The business history of Asleep at the Wheel was front and center in this week’s NYT small business section (“A Band Struts Again, Under an M.B.A. Baton,” byline Roy Furchgott). Roy Benson and Terry Lickona have some characteristic quotes included and there’s mention of A Ride with Bob and of the band’s commercial ties with H-E-B in some ventures. The current business manager, Peter Schwarz, himself has a musical background, as well as a business education, with a parent a member of the New Lost City Ramblers and his own association with the Mamou Playboys. I’ve always loved the Wheel in any and all of its many configurations, large and small, and it’s good to read that, as a business enterprise, it appears likely to continue pleasing audiences everywhere for many years to come.

Protests A-Plenty

Activist group Responsible Growth for Northcross has been busy lately, with a protest at City Hall earlier this week and another protest tomorrow. If you’re interested in protesting Wal-Mart tomorrow, be at the Norwood Wal-Mart at 183 and I-35 from noon to 1:00 p.m. (If you’re interested in counter-protesting, be in the same place, of course!) RG4N is specifically protesting Wal-Mart because of the letter to the city of Austin, sent last week, in which Wal-Mart promised to reduce the size of the proposed Northcross store as long as no one sues them. RG4N regards this letter as a threat rather than a compromise with the neighborhoods.

I wish I could find the exact article, but I seem to recall hearing something on the radio or on the news about Wal-Mart scaling back it’s efforts to go upscale and refocus on leading the low-cost big box market. Here’s a related article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6658257.stm.

Need to kick your screenwriting into gear?

I know a whole lot of us creative types in Austin. Actors, film makers, writers, musicians, painters, and more. You may remember when I posted about NaNoWriMo, where people strive to write 50,000 words in the month of November. There is always a large Austin group that gathers to write and support each other. Well now it’s time for your screen writers to give it a go.

June is Scriptfrenzy month! You or you and a writing partner write a feature length screenplay of 20,000 words or more in the month of June. In my past participation in NaNoWriMo, I found it a great exercise if nothing else and you meet some really great people. It can really unclog the mental pathways and at least get you putting something on a page. It’s all about quantity, not quality, but you never know, you might end up with a decent first draft!

NxNW

A day of freedom took us north by northwest (or toward South Waco, as some say). After last night’s torrential downpours, the flows at the low-water crossings along the length of old Spicewood Springs Road were were nearly to the level of the roadway at some places. This is one of the most beautiful drives in Austin and delightful stops are Bull Creek Park and St. Edward’s Park. In these parks there’s very often solitude to be found and this was one of those days. The air was cool and sweet to the nostrils, the cedars were aromatic, the waters were rushing, the birds were singing, and there was no human-generated noise to be heard.

Today’s jaunt was really intended to be a dual quest. As part of our continuing round of exploration, we visited the Spicewood Springs library branch for the first time since the reopening. This facility is very pleasant indeed. It boasts quite a little collection of Hindi movies. And the Albertsons, our second destination, turned out to be within walking distance, including jumping over a small boggy area or two, thanks to last night’s rains.

We’ve been hearing that some would-be shoppers find it difficult to locate the entrance to the new Domain. We, however, arrived there entirely by mistake. We did not enter any buildings. It seems rather like a stage or movie set, one easy to exit stage whatever. Again lost, we dined at Sushi Sake rather than the intended Mikado, but I’m not complaining. It was at Mikado where tiny bright-red crabs once came to the table as part of an entree. Today, the dumplings at Sushi Sake tasted especially delicious. Even at two o’clock, there were still groups of guys taking long business lunches. With my lunch came a salad dressed in a gingery something that was very tasty and reminded me of the even better dressing of that sort on the giant salad at the Mimosa on Barton, now gone. Today was a treat, but it felt good to head southward.

News8Austin Habibi’s Story Has Inaccuracies

Latest condo development taking over South Lamar daycareNews8Austin isn’t doing much for journalism with this story on Habibi’s Hutch, the latest daycare near downtown to fall prey to redevelopment.

First, Habibi’s didn’t start out at that location as the article states. They used to be on West Sixth between West Lynn and Campbell. I can’t recall when the move took place, but I think it was 2002. They’re also responsible for this gem at the end of the article:

“It’s really sad that they might have to move. There’s a huge lack of daycare and the idea of bringing more development in and not having daycare resources doesn’t really make a lot of since,” he said.

Yep, doesn’t make a lot of "since" to me either.
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The Curtain Closing

Big-Intermission-Invitatio.jpg

Now that our last show of this crazy week at the PAC is over it’s time to begin thinking about the end. Bass is closing on the 21st and even though my office looks out over backstage I’ll miss its motions, its hustle and bustle. There’s going to be PAC events and shows still but nothing like what’s been in Bass even in the past week.

My coworker is a wonderful singer and she’s always wanted to sing in Bass. Some of us went downstairs to hear her and she just came out of nowhere with this gorgeous song, and I stood there watching her from stage left it all hit me that it’s ending and just beginning all at the same time. So many people are leaving but so many new people will become a part of our family down the line, and even though Bass will be dark for 18 months she’ll be better than ever when she reopens. I hope I’m still here to see that.

As Natalie’s voice cut through the stale air of an empty stage I thought about how that giant hall had seen so much; so many people have played here and so much beauty has come to Austin through the PAC, that its closing deserves to be this event that makes me sad and happy all at the same time. Bass is so much more than just a building now that I’ve seen all its sides; as a freshman in the second balcony with my student ticket and my opera buddy, as a seasoned student going to musicals with my friends, as an employee shepherding photographers at rock shows and as just me, off the clock, cutting through a silent, dark hall on my way to the bus, those lights above the seats shining through the black like tiny stars. I’ve mentioned them before but I still think it’s so beautiful.

We as a whole will be saying goodbye to Bass early Monday morning if you’d like to come- it’s called The Big Intermission and everyone’s invited! There will be a live broadcast from KGSR, free breakfast tacos and a free gift to the first 150 people there. I know what the gift is! I want one really bad. Email Mindy Graves to RSVP.

I hope to see you there to help me say goodbye to our Bass Concert Hall. You might have to give me a hug.

Postage and passports

postoff.jpgThe “passport acceptance facility” at the downtown post office on Guadalupe has added Saturday to its schedule for accepting applications. This is a boon to those caught in the backlogs and delays. I’ve been hearing that even passport expediters are falling behind now that the rules governing return of citizens to the United States have been changing. These additional Saturday hours are not yet listed on line. Although the lobby postage-stamp machines did not stock the handsome two-center with the turquoise jewelry, there was a good supply of the new Tiffany one-penny stamps in addition to those boring old hawk stamps in use the last time the rates for first-class postage went up. All these are so that people caught with a stock of the old stamps can add a couple of cents’ worth of postage. There are plenty of the new-rate stamps available as well.

Festive flowers

flowerz.jpgAustin isn’t provincial when it comes to floral designers, and this is one of those weekends important to the flower business just as it is to the restaurant business. For flowers that look as though you grew them yourself, only better, however, and arranged by you, look for large and handsome bunches of garden flowers from the Arnosky family. These are branded as Texas Specialty Cut Flowers and are usually to be found at the downtown farmers’ market, Whole Foods, Central Market, and such smaller businesses as Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress. The flowers are always fresh and beautifully conditioned so that they last a long time. They look like Austin because they’re grown nearby. They are exactly what you’d grow yourself if you had the place and the time and could produce so much color in such great profusion. Mother will thank you for these local beauties.

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