Archive for the ‘Metroblogging’ Category

7 Gift Round-Up

From November 26th to December 2nd, many of the 50 Metroblogging sites around the globe began unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. You can find a summary of all of the cities’ gifts over at Metroblogging Los Angeles. Additionally, Metroblogging Best Of will be highlighting particular cities over the next week or so.

Here’s a recap of Austin’s 7 Gifts in case you missed any of them:

7th Gift: Stevie Ray Vaughn
6th Gift: Lance Armstrong
5th Gift: Gaming
4th Gift: SXSW
3rd Gift: Alamo Drafthouse
2nd Gift: Whole Foods
1st Gift: Slacker

We didn’t rank ours in any particular order and obviously, this is a subjective endeavor. How’d we do? What would you have added to the list? Would you like to see more of this on Metroblogging Austin or across the entire network of 50 cities?

Also, check out Chip and Jette’s Holidailies 2006. Every year in the month of December, they host a blogapalooza of daily postings. It takes quite a bit of stamina to post every day for a month. See who’s up to the challenge.

Austin’s 6th Gift to the World: Lance Armstrong

Austin may not have the professional sports cred of our bigger Texas brethren, but we still have our share of sport heroes. The University of Texas has produced Hall of Fame athletes the likes of Bobby Layne and Earl Campbell, future shoo-in Roger Clemens, and rising star Vince Young. Before Kevin Schwantz won a world championship, he raced motorcycles down Riverside Drive during Aquafest. Austinite Mia Hamm redefined women’s soccer, and Andy Roddick burned up courts around town on his way to a world #1 ranking and US Open title.

livestrong.jpgBut Austin’s greatest athletic gift to the world is undoubtedly Lance Armstrong. The 7-time Tour de France winner has created an unmatched legacy in one of the world’s most grueling athletic events. The guy is such an endurance machine that he spends his retirement running (around) with bud Matthew McConnaughey and finishing the New York Marathon in under 3 hours. Something tells me we’re never going to see a “Fat Elvis” period from this guy.

The incredible thing about Lance is that he has done all of this after improbably surviving testicular cancer that had spread throughout his body. Lance’s fight against cancer has transcended a mere personal victory, thanks to the creation of his foundation and the Livestrong brand. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has donated millions of dollars to cancer research and fundamentally changed the role of cancer support to promote survivorship rather than debilitation or bereavement.

Of course, Lance isn’t perfect. He’s burned through a few high profile relationships, pissed off his neighbors by trashing a Hill Country watering hole, and the French love nothing more than to slander his blood every few years. But that’s all just filler to make the biopic more interesting. Lance’s only real flaw is opening the door for thousands of duffer cyclists to wear ridiculous “sponsored” gear as they trudge along Loop 360. In the big scheme of things, that’s a small price to pay for his greatness.

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts 7Gifts Metroblogging7Gifts

Austin’s 5th Gift to the World: Gaming

Munchkin - Steve Jackson Games
I present to you, Austin’s fifth gift to the world: Gaming.

Austin was home to two well known gaming franchises in the early 1980’s. Richard Garriott, aka Lord British, founded Origin Systems here in Austin and produced the Ultima titles and the Wing Commander series. Origin was bought by Electronic Arts in 1992, one of many local gaming companies to be acquired in the last 10 years. Digital Anvil, an Origin spinoff, was acquired by Microsoft in 2000. The Austin Chronicle’s Marc Savlov wrote a great round-up article on the Austin game development scene in November of 2004.

Steve Jackson Games was founded in Austin in 1980. They’re famous for their role playing and strategy games like Car Wars and current hit, Munchkin. The company started a support BBS (that’s Bulletin Board Service for all you kids out there) for their games in 1986, which eventually morphed into one of Austin’s early internet service providers. A secret service raid on the aforementioned service in 1990 was a catalyst for the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Those buying modern gaming systems from Alienware now have a connection to Austin since Dell acquired them. You might have heard of Dell. They’re in a neck-and-neck battle with HP for bragging rights as the largest computer vendor in the world. They’ve cooled off a bit in the last several years, but they were on fire on the 90’s. AMD, the computer chip maker, also has a major presence here in Austin.

Lastly, an IBM processor design team here in Austin played a major role in designing the cell processor that’s currently shipping in the new Playstation 3 console that’s so desirable, people are willing to shoot each other for the privilege of paying $600 for it.

Austin’s also home to the Austin Game Conference, which was recently acquired by CMP Media.

When you unwrap that new game this holiday season, there’s a pretty good chance that it somehow has ties to Austin’s gaming and technology industry.

4th Gift: SXSW
3rd Gift: Alamo Drafthouse
2nd Gift: Whole Foods
1st Gift: Slacker

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts 7Gifts Metroblogging7Gifts

Austin’s 3rd Gift to the World: Alamo Drafthouse

drafthouse.jpg
My favorite and most taken-for-granted Austin experience is, without a doubt, Alamo Drafthouse. I’m so spoiled by being able to combine dinner, drinks, and movies all in one mega event that I just don’t feel right going to any other theater. I expect menus, waiters, relevant and obscure TV and movie clips, and definitely no commercials. Unless they’re vintage. Or really really bizarre. Alamo Drafthouse is one of the coolest I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that ideas to come out of Austin. And everyone else is noticing too. Entertainment Weekly named it the number 1 movie theater in the country. Tim and Karrie League, Alamo wunderkinds, have taken their Rolling Roadshows across the country. Alamo even got a mention in a recent episode of NBC’s freshman drama, Heroes. In addition to the four locations here in Austin, Houston has one, Katy has one, San Antonio has one, and if you meet their qualifications, they’re taking applications for franchising. I can only hope that someday all movie theaters will be as wonderfully fun, tasty, and respectful of both the moviemakers and audience as Alamo Drafthouse.

The best thing about the Drafthouse isn’t the tables in place of every other row, the unobtrusive wait staff, or even the tasty food and drink. It’s the creative movie-themed events, like the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chocolate feast, God of Cookery chef throwdown, videoke, and, of course, much-beloved Sinus Show. For many events, Alamo brings in big name film folks, such as Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, and local hotshots Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez. My favorite events have been the sing-alongs, specifically the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Boyband sing-alongs (evidently, I have an inner teenage girl fighting to be set free). What have been your favorite Alamo memories?

Photo courtesy of Jette Kernion

Austin’s 2nd Gift to the World: Whole Foods

lamar.jpgWhole Foods Market, the granddaddy of natural/organic food markets, first opened in Austin on September 20, 1980 on Lamar at 10th Street with 19 employees. That location is now occupied by a used CD store, Cheapo Discs. I remember going to Whole Foods on lunch and dinner breaks from the Sound Warehouse at 11th and Lamar, which is now a Whole Earth Provision, in the late 80’s/early 90’s. To me, a kid from Dallas, it was quintessential Austin hippie and one of the things I loved about the city. I remember really liking that they gave tortilla chips and salsa with their sandwiches. Mmmmm…salsa.

In some ways, the growth of Whole Foods has mirrored Austin’s own growth over the past 25 years, struggling to maintain a balance between staying true to the original spirit and rapid expansion and growth. The company has experienced explosive growth over the last 10 years, coinciding with a rise in interest in natural or organic foods. According to their website, their stock has split three times since going public on January 23, 1992 and they’ve grown to 187 locations in the U.S. and U.K. with 39,000 employees.

The 80,000 sq. ft. landmark store and new corporate headquarters opened on March 3, 2005 across the street from the location they’d occupied since 1995. If you’ve never been, it’s quite an impressive sight to behold. I’ve gotten lost in the walk-in beer cooler more than once, only to become entranced by the chocolate fountain. That store is more of a destination and meeting place than a place you’d want to shop regularly.

One of the founders of Whole Foods, John Mackey, maintains a blog on the Whole Foods website. He’s recently used it as a forum for debate with Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan, who Mackey believes unfairly characterized Whole Foods in his section on Industrialized or Big Organic. There’s quite a comment thread there and lots of information, Pollan’s responses are here and here. Having read Pollan’s book, I agree with Mackey that it doesn’t paint a flattering picture and he’s using the power of blogging to try and correct the perception created by the book. It’s a lot to read, but worth checking out.

Look for our third and fourth gifts today as we catch up and then fall in step with our Metroblogging brethren for the rest of the week.

1st Gift: Slacker

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts 7Gifts Metroblogging7Gifts

Austin’s 1st Gift to the World: Slacker

From November 26th to December 2nd, Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. Metroblogging Austin’s first gift is … um, 3 days behind.

slacker.jpg“Sorry, I’m late.”
“That’s okay, time doesn’t exist.”

Sure, it would have been nice to launch our gifts with the rest of the network. But this is a town that embraces the afternoon wake-up call, the intellectualization of pop-culture, and the underemployment of the overeducated. In other words, Austin is for slackers, and it just wouldn’t have been fitting for Austin to blog along in step. Especially since it was a gorgeous weekend better spent wandering around. And then there were those unwatched episodes of Battlestar Galactica waiting on iTunes. But I digress …

It was 15 summers ago that Richard Linklater helped define the decade emerging from the wreckage of the 80’s. Out of the throes and woes of the oil bust, disenchantment and cheap rent sowed the seeds for the slacker ethos that Linklater then cultivated and captured in a low-budget cinematic feature that augured the rise of indie films. Slacker only grossed $1.2 million domestically, but it struck a chord with 20-somethings nationwide, and indelibly linked Austin with the creative hedonism portrayed in the film.

Today, many of the shooting locations have been radically altered or disappeared entirely, transformed by the economic and demographic realities of the tech boom and Austin’s surging popularity. And while it’s hard to imagine any of the film’s iconic characters thriving in an environment of luxury condos and toll roads (how many Yuppies will sell you Madonna’s pap smear?), Austin’s film industry has evolved and grown up to keep pace. Linklater’s commitment to the region and to independent production has been instrumental in building the film industry in Central Texas, most obviously manifested in the Austin Studios production facility at the old Mueller Airport.

Slackers existed long before the movie, but Linklater’s film gave them faces and dialogue that defined the term for a generation, and helped define Austin in the process. While the film’s very popularity may have helped erase the environment that spawned it, there’s still a tangible slacker spirit that resonates in Austin, even amid the cranes and brushed aluminum. Linklater pegged it during a retrospective interview on Salon:

I like Austin more now. I think the mind-set’s still the same. The campus alone takes care of that: We’ve got 50,000 young people; a certain percentage of them are gonna be cool.

Click here to see what other Metroblogging Cities are giving.

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts 7Gifts Metroblogging7Gifts

comparatively speaking….

It seems just like yesterday when I was walking down the sidewalk of my hometown dodging kids on bikes, American flags hanging from store fronts and plugging my ears from the sound of old farm tractors roaring through the blinking red light that was the center of town.
Now as I walk down the streets of my new city I’m hustled for change, sidestepping people in business suits talking into their phone with their head down, jaywalking and tripping over uneven sidewalks.
My beloved restaurant, Barney’s Kitchen, has been replaced with a Mexican food place with a name I couldn’t even begin to pronounce. My Dairy Queen has been replaced with Ben and Jerry’s and Papazonno’s Pizza has turned into a $30 Mangia pizza.
The internet is now wireless and
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Metroblogging On The Scene

One of the benefits of being part of a network of worldwide, city-focused, sites is that when something significant happens, either positive, negative, or something in between, there’s someone there to lend a local perspective and add to what you’re hearing from the mainstream media.

Last week, it was the shootings at Dawson College in Montreal where Montreal Metblogger, Jay, who works in the print shop there, gave his first person account.

Today, it’s coverage of the coup in Thailand from Bangkok metbloggers Daniel and Bonafide, whose post yesterday foreshadowed today’s events.

Metroblogging Message Boards

Sacramento joins the Metblog Crew

Did you feel that? Metroblogging just grew by another city. Sacramento is our latest claim in the quest for global blogging domination. I must say that my only impressions of Sacramento are from the Mavs-Kings playoffs series of the last few years…something about cowbells.

You may now commence the rampant speculation over which city will be #50.

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