Archive for May, 2006

Do You Know What It Means…?

Image from the book’s publisher, Chin Music Press

There’s a reading tomorrow night at BookWoman for Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?, a collection of essays and art on the Crescent City. Local writers, Ray Shea and Juliette Kernion, will read excerpts from their contributions to the book.

I don’t know what it means to miss it myself having only been there a few times, but it’s important not to lose what it was. Might I suggest checking out the New Orleans Metblog for what it is?

Treehouse quick-lunch

On a Thursday at the end of the month before a long holiday weekend, it was folly to head for favorite Luby’s at noon. In the parking lot that looks impossible to fill, there were practically no spaces, to the great dismay of the lovers of pie. There was an inside line out to the door. At the pickup window a half dozen people stood waiting for their food. So it was on to the Treehouse Italian Grill on College Avenue just off South Congress near Stephen F. Austin’s feet. We chose to be seated indoors. Here, downtown workers may park easily, eat some real food, and leave in time to return to the workplace within the appointed hour, or close to it. The recorded music is not so loud as to be distracting but it does protect those gossipy conversations from the people at the next table. Entrees come with a side of pasta and a vegetable melange. A veal special, a pasta special, and a fish special (swordfish in a caper sauce) today joined the printed Thursday-only items on the lunch menu. Popular entrees were the veal parmesan (very large), the salmon, and the trout (which may be topped with crab meat for a small addition to the price). For the quality and the quantity, this remains a great value for that end-of-the-month lunchtime splurge. I’ve always found service here to be attentive and professional. For the first time, I noticed that many people were picking up multiple to-go packages. The packaged food was always out at the counter just before or immediately upon the arrival of the picker-up, who therefore had no wait at all. The ever-refilling tea is cold, unsweetened, not weak, garnished with a generous lemon wedge, and served in a handsome Gilbraltar glass. It’s not the least of the attractions.

Remembering Clifford Antone

Malford and EJAustin music icons gathered to remember Clifford Antone last night at the club that bears his name. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate tribute than for those who graced Antone’s stage through the years to do so en masse in celebration of his legacy.

The line that stretched around the block before the 4pm opening persisted well into the night, although it moved relatively quickly as early arrivals made way for the late-comers. By the time I entered the club, an all-star jam was in full swing, with Jimmie Vaughan joining Charlie Sexton, WC Clark, Double Trouble, and Derek O’Brien in an effortlessly tight musical free-for-all. Malford Milligan and Eric Johnson later filled the spotlight, with Cyril Neville taking the stage around 1am. The mood was almost uniformly upbeat, the performers revelling in their own 8-bar group therapy while patrons swapped memories of Clifford and his club(s).

The crowd was an interesting mish-mash of bar hounds, minor celebrities, and out-of-towners wondering at all the hub-bub. Judy Maggio got off the KVUE night beat in time to join the festivities (looking quite sharp, I must say). There were the musical fringe and hangers-on of friends of friends of people in The Biz. And just as every Dead show has had its whirling hippie dervish crowd, this blues show had the requisite composition of goofy white guys gyrating to beats that were utterly unreconcilable with anything happening on stage. But for everyone there, our internal metronomes were all beating in time, churning in appreciation for the music that Antone’s helped make an indelible part of Austin.

A second tribute is being organized in conjunction with the city for June 3rd at the Palmer Events Center.

Photos: I have a smattering of picts from last night on Flickr. Given the continuous cascade of flashes from the crowd, I assume there will be mountains of others appearing shortly.

Update: In addition to musical tributes, you can also pay your respects to Clifford at the Cook-Walden Funeral Home at 6100 North Lamar. Public visitation will be taking place this Thursday and Friday.

Austin Now documentary on APD

Image from Austin NowAustin Now, a program on KLRU, is airing a documentary about the persistent charges of misuse of force by the Austin Police Department and the on-going political battle over who really controls APD and speaks for the officers this Friday, May 26th at noon and 8pm and again on Sunday at 4:30pm.

This should be especially interesting in the light of this past week’s announcement that Chief Stan Knee is resigning to go work in Afghanistan.

Thanks to April for the tip!

Austin Blues – Clifford Antone Dies

News8Austin is reporting that Clifford Antone has died of an apparent heart attack. Antone’s, the club that he started, is pretty much synonymous with the Austin blues scene that flourished here in the 70’s and early 80’s and birthed Stevie Ray Vaughan among others.

Antone opened the club in 1975 and famously went to prison in 2000 on money laundering and drug charges after being caught with more than 1,000 kg of marijuana. Antone celebrated his club’s 30 year anniversary recently and had taken over management and booking responsibilities at his club again earlier this year.

I’m probably a little odd in that I’ve lived here for sixteen years and never once set foot in either location of the famous club in the time that I’ve lived here, despite having visited almost every other club in town, but I can appreciate his legacy and all he’s done to contribute to our fair city’s famous tagline: “Live Music Capital of the World”. This, coupled with the death of Lloyd Bentsen, who famously put Dan Quayle in his place, makes it a sad day in Austin.

Please share your Clifford Antone, Antone’s or Lloyd Bentsen stories in the comments.

Update (05.24.2006 09:17AM CDT): KUT reports that Antone’s will be open free to the public from 4pm to 2am today. They’re claiming musicians from all over the country are flying in to pay tribute, but didn’t name any names. I’m guessing it’ll be packed, but it’ll be interesting to see who shows up.

Update 2: News8Austin has a couple of stories, including an interview last night with Jimmie Vaughan and quotes from Austin Chronicle editor Louis Black, who says that Antone’s death will precipitate only the third cover change in the history of the weekly, the other two being the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the death of Doug Sahm.

Plastic Surgery Disasters

Jenny Lee image from The InsiderCNN reports that Dr. Robert Rey (aka Dr. 90210) had to restrain an elderly passenger on a flight from Austin to LA. Apparently, Rey was in town filming a segment for The Insider (oh, Pat O’ Brien, what happened?) on Jenny Lee, a woman who is addicted to plastic surgery. That last story says Lee is a Dallas resident, so I’m not sure what they were doing in Austin.

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve watched a few episodes of Dr. 90210 and it’s more than a little amusing to find out that Dr. Rey, a man who himself is clearly obsessed with image and whose affluent lifestyle is a direct result of promoting plastic surgery is going to advise someone that they’ve gone overboard with it. The good doctor’s wife clearly has a serious eating disorder, something they’ve only marginally dealt with on the show from what I’ve seen. The mind boggles.
Image from The Insider

Pacific ephemera

The tomato peace garden is no more. This assemblage, part art, part vegetation, and entirely peaceful, has been broken down into its component parts and no longer exists to delight passers-by at Monroe and East Side across from Stacy Park. This year it was a pepper peace garden. The tubs of peppers have been relocated to the community gardens near the School for the Blind. The gardener-artist who created this work, which during peak seasons has combined an arching bower of plants springing from containers with an illuminated and illuminating message, has been a tenant, not an owner, and the buyer of the house, it’s reported, intends to live there himself. This is my only photograph, taken in daylight and before the seasonal greenery was at its annual flourishing height, but the peace garden has always been a popular photographic subject and a South Austin sight to be shown with pride to visitors. I hope to see it again someday, somewhere, anywhere, in Austin.


This is the UP special 844 as it passed by the Mean Eyed Cat this morning. Many of the people waiting to see it left immediately to chase it along MoPac and then follow along all the grade crossings to Taylor, where it was stopped for some time. It’s now on its way to Thrall, according to the on-line GPS. A lot of vehicles halted on the highway overpass to view it. Many had arrived very early to set up tripods for still and video capture. There was a contingent from the Texas Toy Train Collectors who had heard about it at a show in New Braunfels. Bicyclists stopped and waited. Even the transients came out of their camp in the shrubbery, briefly. Several self-employed skilled tradespeople said they were cheating themselves but when they saw people waiting they couldn’t help stopping to see what was going on. At this location is a surprising collection of wildflowers, including some bluebonnets still showing color. Three trains of freight preceded the Special, one made up entirely of open gondolas, and two with too many cars to count full of Dodge pickups, mostly. There were also tankers, some of which were carrying corn syrup and others of which were loaded with mysterious contents.

Film Tournament 3.0

Calling all aspiring film makers. The Austin Movie Show is gearing up for Film Tournament 3.0 where you an submit your film to battle it out to the death. Just like Highlander, there can be only one. For more details, check out this link or email Do it! Do it now!

Bon jour!

lamad.jpgI think that chalk artists should sign their work. The free-lancers who embellish plate-glass windows along the drag with designs in washable poster paints after athletic victories usually do. My attention was caught by this chalkboard on the wall by the little outdoor dining space at La Madeleine near the Arboretum movie house. My companion’s eye was caught by an eclair. There was nothing at all wrong with it, but disappointment ensued when the filling turned out to be like chocolate pudding instead of the standard pastry cream. La Mad seems to attract patrons of the female persuasion, very occasionally accompanied by those of the male persuasion. There were no guys without gals to be seen on a Saturday at around two o’clock.

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