Archive for August, 2007

Pok-e-Jo’s pleases brisket minimalist

When it comes to brisket, if people describe it as “moist,” I hear “fatty.” I suppose that, when I say “lean,” there are those who will hear “dry,” but it needn’t be that way. It’s just plain brisket that this person craves. Forget sauce on the side; forget side dishes generally; forget any hint of tomato anything rubbed on it before it goes into the pit. When I ask for a half pound of lean, I don’t want any portion of anything juicy. Needless to say, I miss the old Pit that usd to be on East Fifth, incorporating the Susanna Dickinson house (now preserved at Brush Square) within its rambling structure and serving classic barbecue at great prices.

I’ll return to Pok-e-Jo’s at Hancock, which we tried today after seeing Marigold. My half-pound order of brisket, “lean, please,” was just as ordered. Of others’ sides that I tried, I liked the beans best: they had a smoky flavor, were of the right texture, weren’t too salty, and were seasoned with plenty of black pepper.

The menu was being enjoyed by a diverse group, including multi-generational families and gangs of students clad in burnt orange. Tea was the predominant beverage, but some were enjoying beer. There are three big-screen televisions, but they were muted, making Pok-e-Jo’s a good place for comfortable conversation, as well as a good value. As I left I talked briefly to a guy seated near the door; he confirmed that he was using WiFi and that it was free.

Dumpster bin-din

We’re on super-giant open-top haul-away metal trash bin number four this month. These aren’t really Dempster-Dumpsters and they aren’t really ours. These large metallic objects, obviously veterans, are dented and paintless in places, and they possess rear doors that don’t latch and unlatch reliably. The clangs that go with opening and closing and the earth-shaking thud when the bins are dropped are just some of the auditory pleasures to be derived from their proximity. We’re all enjoying the noise, the dust, and the ugliness courtesy of new nearby property owners with big ideas.

The trucks that deliver the giant bins are extremely noisy and leave a pall of exhaust products behind them. The process is intricate. The replacement bin is dropped in a temporary location. The filled bin is lifted and moved to a different temporary location. The empty replacement bin is picked up again and then dropped where it’s to stay until filled. The filled bin is then picked up and driven away. One of them opened while the the hydraulic lift held it suspended at a 45-degree angle and spilled a lot of the demolition trash onto the ground.

When the first debris goes into a bin, there’s not all that much noise, because it’s rolled in on wheelbarrows and filled from the floor up via the rear door. Later a ramp is used. Later still, the door is closed and the demolition debris is lifted up or even tossed up into the bin. Air-conditioning ductwork is the most clamorous as it goes in.

Filling the “dumpsters” legitimately begins at about seven o’clock in the morning and ends when there’s no good light left. During the night, outlaw crews come and go disposing of their work debris gratis at this jobsite that isn’t theirs. We always hear them, because our windows are always open, but we just ignore them. A certain neighbor hears them occasionally and makes a point of running out shouting at the would-be clandestine dumpers. They always claim that they really work at the site and have permission to dump there, but they don’t. The midnight trash droppers-off have so far always been Anglo and the legitimate crews have so far always been Spanish-speaking.

By Shank’s mare around town

The Walk Score for my residence is 53 out of a possible 100, not so great, but I bet it’s better than the score for lots of places in Austin. Enter an address and the result will be a Google-based map with various retail, dining, and service establishments, as well as parks, libraries, bookstores, and other resources, listed and located on the map (without clicking for expansion, only the first listing in each category will be shown). Some of the listings are not accurate (defunct or moved, for example, while others that do exist are just plain omitted), but a neat feature is that the distance from the address entered is shown for each location listed. A factor not taken into account is the difficulty presented to pedestrians of getting from one side to the other of such barriers as IH-35 and MoPac. It doesn’t appear that the existence or lack of sidewalks is taken into account. Just for fun, I entered the address of a friend who lives in West Lake Hills and that address had a score of 63. It would truly be a life-endangering experience to attempt to walk to any of the establishments along Bee Caves Road, one would suppose. I think it’s funny that for a walkability site, presumably of interest to those who walk, fitness and health clubs are enumerated. Public transportation is not taken into consideration; it’s all walk, walk, walk. What members of our household can’t reach under their own power, they can via several different Capital Metro routes and shuttles, all within easy walking. A short walk or ride downtown takes us to a regular cab stand or to a CarShare location. Thanks to that renewable-energy resource, human pedestrian power, along with supplemental assistance from public transportation and on occasion from taxicabs, this household has gone for months at various times doing quite nicely without a motor vehicle at all. The Worldchanging site devotes part of a recent entry to Walk Score. It’s worth remembering that there’s an Austin-specific local edition of Worldchanging.

Mopac Rant: It’s the shoulder, stupid!

Dear Dimwits travelling south on Mopac near 183 in the evening:

I know it’s difficult to grasp since the road has been repaved and they haven’t yet re-striped it yet (not sure that they will since it’s been this way for nearly a week), but there’s only two lanes on Mopac for most of the way between 360 and Steck.

That’s not your own special left lane. It hasn’t been cleared for just for you.

When you get to Steck, you’ll realize that you’ve been driving on the shoulder like a douche. It’s ok. We all make mistakes. Just merge your massive SUV back into traffic without hitting the rest of us and keep staring ahead and talking on that cell phone.

Minimal exposure for national exposure

Will Wynn pj picWho can blot this image, once seen, from one’s memory? No doubt Will Wynn hopes that his new image will efface this one, even though the top of his stylish hairdo has been cropped. The new Will Wynn style icon may be seen on page 226 of the September Esquire magazine, now on newsstands. His is among some three dozen photographs of mayors from around the nation and one of the eight to enjoy a page all to itself, though it’s not a full-length portrait, merely head and shoulders. Is there some deeper meaning to be drawn from the fact that he likens himself to Napoleon? In Esquire, there’s no great expanse of flesh; all is decently covered by a suit priced at $2,425, a necktie at $160, and a cheap little shirt at $99. The stylist has engaged in a bit of hair-poufing, but the photograph generally seems Photoshop-free. The earlier version of the Will Wynn style icon used here is definitely from the Austin Chronicle and pretty definitely from a column by Stephen McMillan Moser, but I could not find it on line, so I’m unable to credit the photographer. I had once scanned this image, but the result has been lost, and this is the best version (although low resolution and also, I believe, cropped) that came my way when I appealed to friends, many of whom had also saved this image, apparently for various comic purposes (the “funny” caption has been removed). Roughly parallel file-naming conventions appealed to many; there were several employing variations of “wynnjammies,” “wynnjama,” and the like.

RIP Joe York


Michael Barnes at the Statesman has reported that beloved Austin actor Joe York has died in his home in Brooklyn. Joe was most recently seen in Zach Scott’s production of Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I saw and briefly wrote about. Joe was an electrifying presence on the stage and I regret that I only got to see him once, but once was enough to have his image burned in my memory to this day. A great artist has been lost today, but his art lives on, and he will be missed.

Oaxacan Tamaleo’s New Digs


You’re probably already familiar with Oaxacan Tamaleo through its easily recognizable proprietor Leonor Banos-Stoute. If you’ve ever been to the Sunset Valley (formerly Westlake) farmers market or to their old location on Anderson between Burnet and Lamar, you may have seen her balancing a pot or vase on her head. While that’s the most visible symbol of the restaurant, it’s their amazing tamales and other fare that are the real reason to pay attention to them.

The old location was a small section of a convenience store and they only took cash. It always felt like a fly by night operation that might get shut down at any moment even though they lasted there for years. I noticed a couple of months ago that they’d vacated that location and wondered whether they’d simply moved or had gone out of business. Luckily, it was the former, as Statesman food critic, Dale Rice, apprently found out this weekend. I have to think that he’d been to the old location, but maybe not. The blog post doesn’t mention it.

They’ve recently moved to a new location on Highway 71 on the way to Bastrop. They’re roughly 11 miles east of the airport. While this location isn’t as convenient to central Austin, there isn’t much on the way between Bastrop and Austin at the moment, so they’re probably going to get a decent amount of walk-in traffic. If I don’t make it out to the new location before the holidays, I’m sure I’ll be trekking out there for some tamales come Christmas. We had all of the out-of-town relatives raving about them last year.

Image from Oaxacan Tamaleo

Changes at The Morning X on 101X

799857360_9406063c0f_m.jpg101X has been in my morning commute rotation for years. I like to pretend that I can still keep up with what “The Kids” are into these days while spending most of my time hanging out on KUT like a proper old person. You remember Sara and Jen, right? Weren’t Trina and Ben in there somewhere?

Jason Dick has had the morning spot for the past few years and did the show with Mike as his straight man until a couple of weeks ago when Mike disappeared. I noticed on Friday morning that all of the ads were now plugging Jason and Deb, the Brit who had been getting more and more air time over the past year or so (I want to say that she’s the show’s producer as well). There’s no mention of Mike’s departure on their blog, but I guess the powers that be decided that Deb was more profitable than Mike, so Mike’s out. I IM’ed Jason today and he confirmed with regret that Mike’s gone.

I find it strange that 101x simply wipes all traces of a DJ from its site and promotional materials and moves on like the person never existed instead of posting something acknowledging the change. Weird.

Image from The Morning X blog on

Hindi movie hideout from the heat

Now that the heat’s truly upon us for real, those of us without air-conditioning seek out the cool spots. I’m talking about the movies. Because they’re super-long and because the brand-new releases are screened here in Austin almost weekly these days, the Hindi (or “Bollywood”) movies are a great attraction. The Chron always mentions them as new in town, but merely summarizes plots because there aren’t advance screenings. The NYT has lately been reviewing these movies (Chak de India, this week’s offering, with no dancing, alas, and Cash, which showed here last week and had a lot of hip-hop influences in the choreography). It’s always possible to Google using “wikipedia hindi movie [title of movie–in this case Chak de India”] for cast lists and links to reviews and official sites. This week’s movie stars Shah Rukh Khan, whom I think of as the Fernando Colunga of India (if you follow telenovelas, you’ll know what I mean, except that Fernando Colunga doesn’t dance). The Tinseltown South site has the most accurate schedules. Tinseltown is the current screening location for these movies. When I fall in love with the music from one of these movies, I usually find it at MGM Indian Foods. Right now, I’m listening to the music from Fanaa. We’re very lucky to be able to see these movies on the big screen, where they belong for their cinematic qualities, which always provide a visual treat, in the same way that so many of the Cantonese and Mandarin movies do. The Austin Public Library (Spicewood and Howson, e.g.) is beginning to acquire Hindi movies, which is wonderful, but they truly deserve a gigantic screen.

Second Fun Fun Fun Fest

I attended the first Fun Fun Fun Fest last December. Other than being cold as hell, it wasn’t bad.

According to Pitchfork, the lineup for this year has been released, but I don’t see much on the Fun Fun Fun Fest site yet.

First, it’s 2 days this year instead of one and takes place on November 3rd and 4th, so it might not be as cold. It’ll be in Waterloo Park again.

Here’s the bands according to Pitchfork:

The New Pornographers
Girl Talk
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Of Montreal
Okkervil River
Murder City Devils
Cadence Weapon
Explosions in the Sky
Final Fantasy
Mates of State
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness
Emma Pollock (ex-Delgados)
the Sword
the Saints
Against Me!

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