Archive for August, 2010

Twin Oaks library branch: new, but perhaps not improved

Perhaps that judgment is unfair. It’s better to say that the outdoors is a great improvement over the parking lot surrounding the old branch in the strip shopping center. Handsome lanscaping has replaced most of the paved area that surrounded the old post office that preceded the new library branch at this site. There’s shady seating outdoors with comfortable chairs and capacious tables. The picture here shows a portion of the outdoor amphiteater, which is a pleasing touch. Additional snaphots show more about the surroundings.

Indoors, the library seems to have fewer books, both for adults and for children. Space is ample at computer work-stations, and there are many; space is cramped for those trying to see books on the shelves or to select DVDs or CDs to borrow. Among the bookshelves, there’s room for one, not-large person in each aisle, with not much, if any, space for one library patron to pass another. Where CDs and visual media are stored, when a tray or drawer is open on one side of a row, there’s no room to open one on the other side.

Today, there was a line at the service desk, and only two of three self-service devices were working. Meeting rooms for community use seem to be pleasant. The restrooms are near the entry. I hope that this does not become one of the branches where patrons must request a key to use them. The magazine-swap has survived. There’s much availability of natural light. The acoustics, however, are very busy, and I noticed that some people were having difficulty understanding what others were saying.

The new branch is in a much better location for those west of Congress than the old one was, but the old one was at the crossroads of close-in South Austin. We’re all happy to benefit again from a South Austin branch. The new one took much longer to be ready than expected, and the old one was closed for months before this one finally opened, last weekend.

Here’s what the City says about the new Twin Oaks branch library.

Austin City Limits Taping – John Legend and The Roots

As I mentioned, John Legend and The Roots taped a performance for Austin City Limits last night. It will air locally on KLRU on Saturday, November 20, 2010. They’re promoting their new album, Wake Up, which will be released on September 21st. It’s a mix of mostly 70s soul covers and a few originals. They had performed the night before in Las Vegas for the Miss Universe pageant.

Austin City Limits is moving to its new location downtown at the beginning of next year, so there will probably only be a handful of performances at Studio 6A before the move. Bob Schneider tapes a set tonight and I’m assuming there will be a few tapings with the ACL Festival coming up at the beginning of October. There were the usual ACL taping amusements last night: people spilling the free beer (the only time I’ll drink Ziegenbock because it’s at least a little better than Budweiser – pro tip: always get two on the way in, it’s too hard to go back and get more) and watching people narrowly miss getting bonked in the head with the boom camera. The most adept at avoiding the camera is the official ACL photographer, Scott Newton, who just released a book collecting 35 years of photos from the show on UT Press.

Black Thought, who was present at the GMA Central Park performance that I linked in my preview post, wasn’t there for last night’s taping. They played pretty much straight through the set without too much talking in between songs and obviously the rap portions of the songs were dropped with the absence of Black Thought. “Captain” Kirk Douglas had a blistering guitar solo at the end of the Bill Withers cover “I Can’t Write Left Handed” and ?uestlove got pretty animated by the end of that song, definitely the best one of the set. I’ve heard “Hard Times” twice now and it’s been stuck in my head all morning.


Questlove, John Legend & The Roots Preview

I first heard about The Roots living in NYC in 1995. I picked up their first major label album Do You Want More?!!!??! and couldn’t stop listening to it. I completely wore out “You Got Me” from their third album, Things Fall Apart. Their latest album, How I Got Over, was just released in June.

I pretend to be a drummer on occasion and had always admired ?uestlove (aka Ahmir Thompson), drummer for The Roots, but developed a serious man crush after seeing him at a live show during SXSW in 2006 for Before the Music Dies. I didn’t know about his bandleading skills until that performance, something that would become much more evident when The Roots began their stint as the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s takeover of Late Night from Conan O’Brien  (the only redeeming aspect of that change, in my opinion).

?uestlove also does guest DJ stints displaying his encyclopedic knowledge of music and will do one tonight immediately following the Austin City Limits taping at Red 7 at 9pm. It’s $8 in advance (try End of An Ear records) and $10 at the door and probably will sell out.

Tonight’s Austin City Limits taping will be with John Legend. Their collaboration, Wake Up, will be released on September 21st. I caught one song at a Central Park performance on Good Morning America a couple of weeks ago. The collaboration is inspired by the presidential election campaign of 2008 and is a mix of covers and originals. VH1 has a bunch of behind the scenes videos promoting the album. I’ll post a review of the taping tomorrow.

Here are the air dates for Season 36 of Austin City Limits which airs locally on KLRU on Saturday nights at 7pm:

October 2, 2010         Jimmy Cliff
October 9, 2010         Spoon
October 16, 2010      Patty Griffin & Friends
October 23, 2010      Alejandro Escovedo / Trombone Shorty
October 30, 2010      Robert Earl Keen / Hayes Carll
November 6, 2010     Steve Martin / Sarah Jarosz
November 13, 2010   Rosanne Cash / Brandi Carlile
November 20, 2010   John Legend & The Roots

New India Cuisine quick-lunch

New India Cuisine brings new dining pleasures to South Austin, including two of the most refreshing beverages available anywhere in town to help the hot and thirsty withstand our hot weather. These are homemade fresh ginger soda and homemade fresh lime soda. The first is extremely generous with fresh ginger-root and is sweeter than the deliciously tart lime drink. I think we must ask for both the next time we visit.

New India Cuisine shares space with Eva B’s Bakery in the shopping center at South Congress and Oltorf that’s directly east and across the street from H-E-B and across Oltorf from the Twin Oaks shopping center. The door faces south and the building is at a right angle to the former Bealls, now AceMart.

Orders are placed at the counter and paid for at that time. We were famished and too tired to deliberate and so were delighted to follow suggestions from the owners. We began with Wada, which arrived accompanied by a delicious mint chutney and a tamarind chutney. These were seasoned potato cakes, which I’d gladly order again. At the table was a generous bowl of boneless chicken pieces in a coconut curry. Rice was beautifully seasoned. I enjoyed my curry of cauliflower and potato with tomato and seasonings. Our garlic naan was hot and a wonderful accompaniment. I plan to return again and again for the dal tarka malvani style (a broth of yellow lentils with black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves), as beautiful as it was tasty.

Menu options include many vegan and gluten-free selections. WiFi is free. New India Cuisine is closed on Monday and closed daily from 3 to 5 pm. Call 445-9727 for more information or to place a takeout order.

Circus, circus

Only two shows remain (today, at 2 pm and 6 pm) before the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus moves on. Our tickets were fifteen dollars apiece, and they were worth every penny and more. There are no bad seats at the Erwin Center for Zing Zang Zoom, as the production’s called.

If there were favorites among the varied acts, they included the youthful Chinese acrobat troupe, the dog acts, the beautiful liberty zebras and horses (although I love those even better when there are plumes nodding atop their heads), the multi-platform Russian swing act, the chiffon dancers, and the beautifully choreographed and costumed vaguely Balinese dance accompanying the parade of elephants.

The band boasted nine pieces (two trumpets, a trombone, a saxophone, percussion, two guitars, and two keyboards), and it offered up a wonderful arrangement of our national anthem. For once, the ringmaster was not a singing one and so those of us spectators who sang were not overpowered by a show-bizzy vocal.

The costumes were all bright and clever, and the between-acts demonstration of a certain flying gizmo did a lot to sell examples to the audience. I succumbed to temptation myself, but haven’t yet tried out my skills. We all left the arena smiling, and some of us took time to peer backstage and see the artists, in and out of costume, and some of the jaunty performing dogs.

What an entertainment bargain!

Trail’a Confusion

Closed, Open or shut forever?

Closed, Open or shut forever?

[Yes, it’s a pun]Austin’s food/shops-in-a-trailer community continues to grow, it’s amusing now to think back to the City Council meeting about 801 Barton Springs road when the developers proposed a massively oversized building, when it looked like they were going to be turned down, one of their team threatened to fill the space with more food trailers. Really, thats bad ??

Still, I’m guessing that one of the attractions of running your business out of a trailer is that it’s “unconventional”, well sort of. You can move it around, you can keep your own hours, and of course the costs and regulations are significantly less than running out of a traditional building. They have their own blog, the Trailer Food Diaries. [Complete with annoying music playing widget].

What’s clear though is there is a huge turnover of these businesses, some are little little more than “fly-by-nights” they arrive, they last a couple of weeks and are gone. Part of their problem is one of their strengths, not only do they come and go, you really can’t predict when they will be open.

There’s a trailer park just up the street from me on South 1st, not the South Austin Trailer Park Eatery where Torchies is, but on the South West Corner of Live Oak. It was 98f and I decided to walk up and get a sno cone. Closed. Now, I can’t be sure if thats closed, or out of business. Cafe Racer was there a month or so ago, now it’s gone.

Although not strictly a trailer, the same was true for the Mary’s Cubana Coffee that I wrote about back in September, originally open only 7-11am, then it seemed to be 8-10am, then it was gone. Another uncertainty was the Austin Daily Press, it was there, then it wasn’t. A trailer currently it sits on South 2nd during the day all closed up. Who knows if it heads somewhere under cover of darkness or is just abandoned on a residential street. [According to this Austin360 entry from last week, it looks like it might indeed move overnight to Club De Ville].

What’s clear from my perspective is that opening a trailer doesn’t appear to be an “easy job”. The successful ones I visit keep regular and mostly long hours. They don’t appear to be part-time jobs.

Another place to keep up with Food trailers or carts as some are called is the Austin Food Carts Blog, they even have a map of locations.

Poolside Live wraps Monday for another year

Poolside Live - Monday 16th August

The Save Our Springs alliance is bringing the 2010 Poolside Live to a great close Monday with the final concert of the season and it should be a doozy!

It’s an “unplugged” concert featuring the music of the 13th Floor Elevators tribute band “The Tommy Hall Schedule” accompanied by a psychedelic light show. Apparently for “newbies” like me, the light show should go some way to re creating the Vulcan.

[OK, I had to look it up.] According to the wikipedia entry “The Vulcan) was the first successful psychedelic music venue in Austin, Texas.” So, it should be a great way to see out the end of the season. Bring baggy pants, a tie-dye t-shirt, oh why not the speedo’s and a towel and go for a dip!

The 13th Floor Elevators were one of the regular bands at the Vulcan and original band member Tammy Hall is bringing a genuine retrospective of the music of the times between 1967 and 1970!

It starts at 8pm and runs through 10pm, donations to the SoS Alliance would be a great idea, join up, find out, contribute time!

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