Friday, October 16, 2009

This Is Why I Read Missed Connections

What a gem:

Okra Graffiti Girl (Rio Rita)

Date: 2009-10-15, 11:10PM CDT

Oh you poor thing.

They just don't understand like I do. They don't know what you've been through.

Because they're Unforgiving Assholes, they didn't take the time to think that anyone so sadly lacking in self-control and basic decency --not to mention hygiene and concern for the health of others-- was either raised by particularly ill-mannered wolves OR was reeling from the blows that come from realizing your mother, aware of your antics, had died of shame.

Don't listen to them sugarlump; I'm here for you in your time of need.

I was as scandalized as you were to find out that mean, vicious bartender had the NERVE to not want your ill-mannered paws in the ingredients for one of the most popular, often-requested drinks in town. Clearly he doesn't get you like I do.

He doesn't understand like I do, how you have deep, important, meaningful okra-affiliated needs that cannot justly be checked by mere trivialities like health codes, manners, or the basic fundamental tenet that stealing is wrong, even though it's the corner stone of all major world religions and codes of conduct.

Don't worry about them baby; if stealing from a beloved locally-owned independent establishment is wrong, darling...I don't want you to be right.

You had every right to expose each and every patron in the bar to your own particularly delightful bouquet of pathogens and microscopic filth. In fact, next time I go into a bar and ask for a drink, I'm going to specially request someone who has no discernible concern for hygiene go ahead and give a good healthy sneeze right into the glass. You can't spell microbrew without microbe. Kinda.

And finally, I want you to know you have my full support with your little public art installation in the ladies room. Sure every other person on the planet might see your tenth-grade yearbook handwriting and think "what a sad, whiny, entitled little ball of hair, teeth and ego" and then laugh and laugh imagining you scribbling furiously, high on impotent righteous indignation like you just found out you didn't make Homecoming Court even though you totally let Bobby Hannigan go to third after flag practice because his aunt knew the woman whose husband counted the final ballots.

Don't worry the rest of the world is laughing at you and the permanent icon to your own jaw-dropping stupidity, but not I. We're a team now. I understand your poignant, poignant pain and I want to help. You have a message Okra Girl, a message for the world, and soon, the e.coli of justice will be spread through this great big condiment tray we call America!

  • Location: Rio Rita
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
image 1423612280-0

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Don't Move Here!

The bumper sticker of all bumper stickers, except that it's so necessary a phrase that it's painted on, rather than stuck on. Courtesy of a loser with iPhone.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is It Just Me?

Or does the terrorist suspect look a lot like every other Austin hipster guy? Read the story here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What Would Carson Want?

Of the people who read this blog, I'm pretty sure none of them would care about this nearly as much as I do. But many of you are literature nerds, so I hope you can appreciate my agitation here.

Since high school, I've had a fascination with Carson McCullers. She grew up in Columbus and is, by far, the most notable literary figure to come from that town. One could argue that she's the most notable person, well, ever to come from Columbus. (The guys who invented Coca-Cola and baseball player Frank Thomas could also take the title, I suppose...)

All that to say, Columbus's snooty, old-school Southern elite ignored her and her literary accomplishments for years. No wonder she never came back to live there. (This makes her decidedly different from my most favorite Georgia writer, Flannery O'Connor). Poor Carson, she was outcasted by them while she was growing up, outcasted after she proved herself to them. I've always identified with her (outcasted writer!) and like her, I hope to never live in Columbus again, if I can help it. (Although, being honest with myself, I will never be as successful as she was...)

Ok, so we've established that I love Carson McCullers. Now for the really good stuff. I recently made a discovery while researching for my Intro to Archives class. The Columbus State University archives held a collection of McCullers papers for a while. The collection must have been sold sometime recently because I found this suspicious link, suggesting that CSU had some of McCullers's papers but now no longer do. I have reason to believe those papers were purchased, at some point, by UT's prestigious Harry Ransom Center here in Austin (although they could also be at Duke University or Emory University).

This leaves me rather conflicted. Part of me feels strongly that those papers should stay at CSU, so that the city of Columbus can continue to atone for its neglect of her. However, I'm not sure that's what she'd want. While she was alive, she wanted nothing to do with Columbus (although she mined it -- well, mined her negative experiences there -- for the settings of her novels and stories). And it's great that the Ransom Center, which is practically in my backyard, has this kick-ass collection of her work (albeit an artificial collection, which goes against some archivists' principles).

Still, I wonder if those papers should have stayed in Columbus. A lot of people there have embraced McCullers and the literary tradition she established for the city. She certainly left a mark on my literary development, one that is different from any other writer, simply because we share Columbus as a hometown.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Missed Connections and The Summation of Hipster Culture

That sounds like the title of a paper, and that's how I'm thinking these days: in terms of assignments, journal articles, presentation, and of course, papers.

But onto the good stuff. I took a break from school work and work work today to check out Craig's List Missed Connections, and found this gem (and I think it speaks for itself):

Hipster girls of Austin

I see you, cute hipster girls of Austin. I see you rocking that Deep V wheelset at the Thursday night social ride, or writing the next great American collection of poems at the corner table at Quack's, or browsing the Mamet archives at the Harry Ransom Center, or listening to the XX on your iPod at a bus stop because the Dirty Projectors are so two months ago. I see you with your wisely chosen and very artful and very sexy tattoos, your carefully-but-not-too-carefully maintained hair, perhaps with highlights of an unusual, biologically impossible color. I see you with your impeccably snazzy clothes, no doubt skillfully curated from countless Cream Vintage visits.

And I just want all of you to know: you are all very hot. Every Pitchfork-reading, farmer's-market-shopping, liberal-arts-college-educated inch of you.

I know I can never be with you, cute hipster girl. My bicycle has not only brakes, but multiple gears. It is, in fact, a hybrid, the fanny pack of the bicycle world. I am entirely free of tattoos. My facial hair is patchy at best, so I am unable to grow a beard. I live west of I-35. I am not a member of a lo-fi shoegaze indie pop band that sometimes gigs at Progress Coffee, and indeed I can't play any musical instruments. I can't even play the ukulele, the fanny pack of the indie rock world. I find Wes Anderson somewhat tedious, and I have not read a single issue of McSweeney's in anything even vaguely resembling its entirety. My jeans do not hug my legs, and I do not have a single stylishly retro vest or hat in my closet. I rarely listen to KUT or KVRX. Although I own a Moleskine, I have to be honest with you — I don't really write in it that much. I went to the Chuck Close show at the Austin Museum of Art and I'm pretty sure I didn't get it. I shop at HEB and not Wheatsville.

My appreciation of Hall and Oates is entirely non-ironic. I occasionally eat meat.

But the biggest problem, hipster girl of Austin, is that you're just too intimidating in your good taste and vaguely-counterculture-but-not-threateningly-eccentric hotness for me to ever work up the pluck to talk to you. I know I will never be cool enough. Le sigh.

But that's okay. You still brighten my vinyl happy hours at Waterloo Records and my Shangri-La visits. Thank you, hipster girl. You rock my world, and you make it look so easy. Carry on with your Bianchi Pista self.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oncoming Headlights Do Not Bother Me As Much

I've recently started drinking kombucha, thanks mostly to Carol's homebrewing. (Seriously, I greatly appreciate it, Carol.) Since I've been carrying around jars of the stuff, people have been asking me about the gelatinous jellyfish thing floating in my tea.

Thus, I have to explain kombucha. ("It's fermented tea, made with a live bacteria culture, blah, blah, blah. It's really good for you, blah, blah, blah.") Still, people don't understand why I'd want to drink vinegar flavored-tea with bacteria growing in it.

So Carol sent me a list entitled The Benefits of Kombucha, compiled by a Yahoo kombucha group. All the benefits are testimonial and not backed up by medical science. With some consideration to these dubious origins, here are my favorite "benefits":
  • Has brought me into contact with some very caring people
  • Addictive taste
  • Makes a good hair rinse
  • Shrinking large fatty tumor
  • Oncoming headlights do not bother me as much
  • I can see the pupils of my eyes again without glasses
  • Good underarm deodorant
  • For some people; eliminates desire for alcohol, & helping to relax
  • People begin taking responsibility for their own health
Hippies and their homeopathic cures... I will say this: Kombucha has made a significant difference with my digestive health. As for eliminating the desire for alcohol and seeing the pupil of my eyes, I'll let you know.

Watch the Taking Woodstock Trailer Here

You Tube once again disabled a video. So you can watch the Taking Woodstock trailer here. Plus, this one has a good Demetri Martin intro.

I still haven't seen the movie. If you have, let me know what you thought.

Friday, August 14, 2009

In Other Families, This Would Be a Big Fuckin' Deal

First watch this trailer:

The motel featured in this movie is the El Monaco. My grandfather bought the place two weeks after the events of this movie took place. He owned it for 35 years after that, selling it in 2004. He died in 2005, and in 2007, the town tore part of it down to build a clocktower.

I always knew Woodstock took place at Yasgur Farm, close to the El Monaco, but I never knew the extent of the restaurant/motel's role in the logistics of festival planning. In fact, when I first saw this trailer, I thought "Wait, did he just say 'El Monaco'? Could it possibly the same El Monaco that belonged to my crazy Italian family?"

Sure enough it is. And for the record, it looked nothing like the place in the movie.

And sure enough, my crazy Italian family never told me about the place's unique history. I just knew it had a vague connection to Woodstock, nothing my family played up. Crazies. I shake my head.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quirky Is Not Bad (For Movies)

Ok, I know this comes as no big surprise, but I loved both 500 Days Of Summer and Away We Go. I realize that now the indie film aesthetic has gone mainstream, and there's nothing particularly new or experimental about either of these films. And I'll even admit that the quirk in both films border on cliche.

But here's the thing: Both films gave me what I want from a movie. Good stories, likable characters, funny situations, and some sweet, sad, beautiful moments. I don't really care if it's become cliche. I feel like I got my $8 worth.

500 Days has been criticized for being too much style over substance, and I'll grant that. There's a narrator, a musical number, black and white scenes that try too hard to look like a classic French film. But overall, I didn't really mind. It's also been labeled Nora Ephron for hipsters. So what? Nora Ephron makes romantic comedies that are actually good. While there are cliche elements to the story, [spoiler alert!] Tom and Summer don't stay together. There aren't many romantic comedies that feature a break-up between the leads...

As for Away We Go, I loved it. By far, it was my favorite movie of the summer (although Up comes close). First of all, it features a couple that has been together for a long time and still love each other and have a real friendship. Movies don't show us happy, established couples, and here come Burt and Verona. Plus, the supporting cast all put in great performances, and I particularly loved Maggie Gyllenhal as the crazy, hypocritical hippie. The film manages to move subtly towards poignancy, and while some critics may feel like they were being manipulated, I didn't mind at all.

Sometimes, you want your emotions manipulated a little bit. That's what movies offer us. They don't always have to be realistic or believable. I'm ok with that.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thanks, Federal Government, for Forcing My Giant Corporate Employer to Pay Me More

Minimum wage is going up this week, from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. This is great news for me, seeing as I can hardly pay rent at $7/hour right now.

I don't claim to know much about economics, but it seems that all those people who say that this will cause inflation and further problems have never had to live on minimum wage... But I guess us bleeding hearts never take macroeconomics into consideration. We're just too blinded by our ideals.

Yeah, tell that to the single mother who's your grocery cashier.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Clarification on "If You're Interested..."

I figured I better post the text of the Craig's List Missed Connection ad in question, seeing as it might get taken down (as happens to CL ads).

Hot Austin Librian at Chicago Conf. - m4m - 38 (Memphis)

Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-07-13, 8:50PM CDT

Uou were the very hot, masculine librian at the recent conference in Chicago. We chatted and exhcanged names and a few other key pieces of information. I would love to chat more. In fact, I may start READING MORE..just to go to the Library.....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bananarchy and Chaos In the Blogospshere!

I occasionally write food feature stories for The Onion/Austin Decider website. I've had a lot of fun with it, met some inspiring Austinites, stirred up some controversy, and now I've helped get a local food cart get some national buzz. My recent story on Bananarchy has been re-blogged. Several times.


Entertainment Weekly

Comedy Central

And I know. The chocolate banana in the photo looks like a penis. Enough already.

Monday, June 29, 2009

By This Logic, I'm Desirable

I've blogged about other blogs, and one of my favorites is Stuff White People Like (although posts are becoming more and more infrequent due to the blogger's incessant book touring...)

But read this paragraph from the latest post on Vespa Scooters:
As it stands, every single white person on earth either owns, has owned, or is dreaming about owning a Vespa Scooter. And why not? They are Italian, feature vintage design, low emissions, make the rider look more sophisticated, and they carry a little bit of risk. In fact, were it to have a liberal arts degree and a steady income, a Vespa scooter would possesses every important quality that a white person looks for in a spouse.

Look at that list of important qualities:
  • Italian
  • vintage design
  • low emissions
  • sophisticated
  • little bit of risk
  • liberal arts degree
  • steady income

Sound familiar? Reminiscent of any vintage-clothes-wearing-hipster-in-denial-self-proclaimed-lazy-editor you know?

Yep, I posses a chunk of those "important qualities a white person looks for in a spouse." I'm working on the low emissions and steady income. Sophisticated is probably not applicable (you should've seen me this weekend at kareoke...) I'm also not sure how risky I am. I'm pretty stable and don't like to drive at high speeds. But I've got the rest covered. Why then am I still single???

Oh wait. These are qualities attributed to a scooter.

[As for other entertaining blogs, Anslee sent me a link to this one: Look at this fucking hipster.]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Harold Sightings

I always say Austin is a big city that feels like small town, as long as you stay centrally in the city and run in certain circles. For indie-concert-going hipsters, that circle is rather small (in comparison to the general population of the city).

Seeing as I go to a lot of shows, I see the same people--complete strangers or vague acquaintances--over and over again. Such is the case with Harold.

But Harold is not your average hipster. Oh no. First of all, his name probably isn't Harold. I've never actually met him, so I have no idea what his name is. My friends Gloria and Charlene named him that after spotting him at several shows. They decided the name Harold suited him best.

He's unusual in that he's probably in his late 30s, possibly early 40s. He's Asian, wears chunky glasses and has a little goatee. I often see him wearing a vintage Carpenters t-shirt, although in the less-hot months, he wears a white denim jacket. He also tends to drink Lone Star but is never visibly drunk.

He's almost always alone, but I have noticed him talking to people. In fact, when I saw Neko Case back in March, I spotted him in a group. He stood in the same spot and talked to a couple of white guys before Neko took the stage. He has rather girly taste in music. I saw him at Lykke Li's free show at Waterloo Records and most recently at a Jenny Lewis show. That said, I also saw him during SXSW at a free show in Waterloo Park that featured a lot of punk bands. It was even more strange to spot him at the recent Black Moth Super Rainbow concert. BMSR is not quite in the same category as Jenny Lewis...

In writing this, I've also realized I've observed way too much about this guy, but at least I admit it. Plus, Gloria did most of the groundwork of observation. We've discussed introducing ourselves and finding out his story (and real name). But I like the mystery. It's better knowing him simply as Harold. Half the fun of going to shows is looking for him.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Some Things Annoying Me Lately

1) Governor Rick Perry is at it again. This time, he vetoed a bill that would require drivers to actually to be safer when driving near cyclists and pedestrians. How are people to be encouraged to get out of their cars if they don't even feel safe on the roads? I say this as a novice road cyclist who is deathly afraid of motor traffic. I would like to become less reliant on my car, but I don't feel comfortable. This bill would encourage people like me to get out of our cars and our on bikes. That would better for Texas, Perry, but you're probably too much in bed with oil and car companies to care about your citizens' safety. I can't wait for the next gubernatorial election...

2) A local food blogger has decided to change her name because a major corporation has gone after her for copyright infringement. She hasn't outed the company, although I wish I knew who it was so I could write them a nasty letter for going after such a little guy. I'm sure she's trying to minimize the damage and not cause any unnecessary trouble, but this is ridiculous. I'm all in favor of people protecting their intellectual property. However, this isn't so much a case of First Amendment rights as one about a corporation creating a witch hunt to "protect its brand." I don't think this is what the writers of the Constitution had in mind when they instituted freedom of speech. The plus side is that a lot more people are reading her blog now.

[A similar case has come up against local rollergirl Crackerjack. Frito-Lay (owner of Cracker Jack snacks) is suing her for stealing their name. Also ridiculous and unnecessary.]

3) This is far less political. I'm in general annoyed with people's lack of cell phone ettiquette. Can't you shut up long enough to place an order? I'll probably return to this in a few days. For now, I just feel better ranting all these things to my gracious audience.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Seeing as I grew up in Georgia--a state that only removed a racist symbol from its flag in the last ten years--I understand what it's like to be from a place with a blotted history. Texas has more than it's fair share of embarrassments (past and present).

But I was fascinated to learn about the history behind the annual Juneteenth celebration. I mean, I had not idea this happened. I always thought that when Abraham Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, it freed all slaves in the United States and the Confederacy.

Not Texas. Slaves in Texas were not freed until June 19, 1865 three years later. Union general George Granger and a few thousand troops came to Galveston to enforce the proclamation, thus freeing thousands of slaves in East Texas. The following year, freed slaves starting celebrating June 19, calling in Juneteenth, and it's recognized around the world as a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. .

Interesting sub-note: According to Wikipedia, slavery was not as common in Hill Country (which includes the Austin area) because German settlers were against the practice. So this area was progressive even back in then...

But Texas still can't make good on this interesting holiday. Several states have adopted Juneteenth as a state holiday, including places as far away as California and New York. But it's not an official state holiday here. State employees can use it as a floating holiday, but it's essentially the same as PTO. That said, people around here continue to have Juneteenth celebrations, so at least the people of Texas recognize the importance of this bit of history, even if the state government doesn't.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Do You Know the Historical Significance Of Tonight?

Today is June 1st. I'm sure some important historical events happened on this day in the past. But as for today -- June 1, 2009 -- I have to remind everyone that Conan O'Brien will be hosting his first episode of The Tonight Show.

I will be attending a viewing party with other people who take this as seriously as I do.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sin Nombre

Two nights ago, my roommates and I went to see the movie Sin Nombre. It's an indie film in limited release right now and entirely in Spanish. This is first feature film I've seen in months that was actually in it's first-run, wide(ish) release. I've been to see special screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse, but those were small films with one-time showings.

But back to Sin Nombre. It's an intense film that focuses on the intersecting stories of two teenagers trying to immigrate from Central America to the U.S. Willy is on the run from his Mexican gang, while Sayra is leaving Honduras with her father and uncle. While the plot is pretty fast-paced, the film has a strong sense of realism. I left feeling that it was an accurate representation of gang violence and immigration.

I still haven't quite recovered--it's violent and, at times, disturbing. But it presents the characters with empathy and dignity, and the stark realism is, oddly, refreshing. It's worth seeing, although I'm not sure I'll be watching it again for at least several months.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Give a Girl on a Bike a Break

Thanks to the lovely weather yesterday (lovely: not 90+ degrees), I went on a bike ride with my roommate and a friend around the East Side. As we were making our way back home, some asshole threw an unopened can of beer at my roommate, hitting her ankle and bike frame and spraying open. He managed to throw that sucker over a fence, but I still can't figure out what his motive was. He yelled something at her, but I didn't catch it because I was desperately peddling to pass a bus before it moved into the bike lane for a stop.

So was he just being an obnoxious drunk or is this another example of drivers' embittered resentment against cyclists?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Near Chaos At the Airport!

I just got back from a 5-day trip to Georgia, and my general knowledge of regional airports leads me to expect 1) Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International to be a zoo (though a well-coordinated one) and 2) Austin Bergstrom International to be a a breeze.

Not so yesterday.

I have yet to find any news coverage, but from my standpoint as a traveler, here's what happened: First of all, there was a film crew doing something there. They had taken over a gate and looked like they were filming a scene involving someone either getting on or off a plane. This is not that unusual because of Friday Night Lights and Austin's independent film scene. Still, it was a little exciting to poke around after getting off my flight and see the crew at work.

But then! People were trying to go down one set of escalators to baggage claim, and security officers were directing us to the other escalators to the left. I thought this had something to do with filming. So I used the other escalator, and at the bottom, an airport employee (not a security officer) was yelling at everyone to stay back because baggage carousels 3-5 were closed. Once again, I figured this had something to do with filming.

She directed people to where their luggage would be for every airline except for Delta, which was, of course, my airline. People from my flight swarmed around her, and she kept saying she didn't have any information about Delta. She was yelling a lot, telling people to stay back. Finally, some security officers in uniform sectioned off the restricted area, and we finally found out that they were investigating a "suspicious bag."

My luggage had been sent to carousel 5 (which is where luggage from Delta flights usually go at ABIA) so they had to send them back to carousel 1, but I only figured this out because I saw other people from my flight getting their bags. Around this time, the film crew was packing up their stuff. I have no idea what happened to the "suspicious bag" or what they were filming. I'll keep looking at local news sites. Honestly, as annoying as the ordeal was, it was a little bit exciting...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Texas Will Secede and Then We'll All Die of Swine Flu

Texas has been in the news a lot lately.

First, our brilliant governor Rick Perry made a joke (or was it more serious? I think so) about Texas seceding from the nation at large because of Obama's stimulus plan.

Despite all the bad sports references, David Faris properly assessed the situation in his op-ed piece Don't Mess With Texas--Get Rid of It. In the event that Texas does seceed and Austin stayed with the larger liberal U.S., I think I'd have to move (as much as I wouldn't want to). Options would be: Portland, Madison, San Francisco, Asheville, New York, possibly Decatur/East Atlanta.

Then there's swine flu. Good grief. I live approximately 80 miles from San Antonio, the location of Texas's 6 cases of swine flu. I'm not about to start wearing a mask, and I think this is just another example of media hooplah. But let's not forget that I'm uninsured and tend to be a conspiracy theorist.

So maybe Texas should seceed and quarantine all cases of swine flu. In which case, I'll hop on the next flight to Portland.

[If you think I'm kidding, read this: Texas Secede!]

Monday, April 27, 2009

Corner Store Characters

Anslee and I went to a birthday party Saturday night, and not to be ones to show up to a house party empty-handed, we decided to stop somewhere for a six pack of beer. HEB was closed, and most of the East Side convenience stores just seemed, well, sketchy.

Finally, we stopped at the Corner Store (that's seriously it's name) on Airport, just west of 35. While this is not quite the East Side, it's still not the nicest part of Austin, despite it's proximity to Hyde Park. But we decided to brave it anyway.

The parking spots were not clearly marked, so I drove past the gas pumps and this old man with a beer belly was walking very slowly to his car. I wasn't really sure how to maneuver around him, and then out of nowhere, a Hispanic guy on a bike rides right through the open parking spots, going about as fast as the old man on foot.

So I managed to wait for both of them and park (although the guy on a bike waved to me to acknowledge the fact that I did not run him over). We made our way inside, grabbed some Shiner, and went to the open register. A surfer/stoner-looking white guy with long, stringy hair greeted us as we came in, but he was busy talking to the bike guy in Spanish, so we went to the other register.

Anslee and I have been trying to figure out exactly where the other cashier is from. He was black and had an accent that could be: 1) West African (or maybe some other region of Africa, but my guess is West African) 2) Carribean (although probably not Jamaican) 3) Cajun/Creole from Louisiana. We could not understand a word he said. He was very friendly and talkative, and we asked him about lottery tickets because we thought it would be funny to get the birthday girl a scratch ticket. But apparently, they had run out on Friday. At least, I think this is what our cashier friend said. He also gave Anslee instructions about the debit card machine, but, once again, she couldn't understand him. I guess he has to deal with dumb Americans who can't understand him on a regular basis, poor guy, but he knew the drill well enough to direct her.

So we waved good-bye to both the stoner cashier and the African/Carribean/Creole cashier and made our way back to the car. On our way, the old guy with the beer belly was walking back into the store to buy something else (he had already purchased a case of Natty Light). The guy on the bike was peddling off, and as he passed us walking to the car, he hacked up the biggest lugy we've ever seen come out of a human being. Damn those Austin allergies.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Are You Following Jesus This Close?

My friend Sunny from New York was in town last week, and all my friends and I are trying to convince her to move to Austin. While driving around funky South Austin, we were behind this truck, which might just have the creme de la creme of Austin bumper stickers. Case and point to why she should move here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Camera Obscura. Damn.

Camera Obscura's latest album, My Maudlin Career, is so good, it's worth purchasing. But you can listen to for free a week before it's released. Thanks again, NPR.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Neko Case is Chanelling Flannery O'Connor?

I was reading from The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor last night, and I finished this one called 'Enoch and The Gorilla'. It's about a young man named Enoch who follows a traveling gorilla sideshow, and of course, the "gorilla" is only a guy in a suit. Enoch decides to steal the gorilla suit, but I'm still not sure if he killed the actor inside it.

Anyway, I've been reading these stories, and they're all pretty dark and funny, proving why O'Connor is the 20th century's foremost Southern gothic writer. I've also been listening to a lot of Neko Case lately. Well, I'm always listening to Neko Case. That's nothing noteworthy, really.

I don't know if it's just because I've been reading these stories while simultaneously digesting Case's work (including her new album) but I've drawn some paralells. Case sings in such a way -- with that raw alto voice -- that I imagine sounding something like Flannery O'Connor. I don't mean that O'Connor would sound like Neko Case. It's just that her voice seems to embody O'Connor's gothic presence. Then I look at the subjects of Case's songs: deadly car accidents, serial killers, ghost stories, finding dead birds, losing fingers in a cannery. All pretty dark, sometimes funny, and provoking in a way that makes you really think about human nature.

Sounds a lot like Flannery O'Connor's stories.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Current Financial Priorities

I'm in the trenches of unemployment. My only income for the last month has come from a small handful of published stories and restaurant reviews. Otherwise, I'm living on piddly savings and the kindness of friends who give me food.

But I know a job is just around the corner. I'm not using this as my personal pity-party venting mechanism. What I will whine about, however, is that there are several albums that I desperately want to buy but cannot afford at the moment. I decided after SXSW that I want to support the artists I love, so I'm going to purchase albums. For now, anyway.

Here's my wish list:
  • Bishop Allen - Grrr (Dumb title but I love them and want to give this new album an unbiased shot.)
  • M. Ward - Hold Time
  • Neko Case - Middle Cyclone (This one can be streamed online at, and I've listened to it a few times. It's so beautiful that I want to own it.)
  • Balmorhea - All is Wild, All is Silent
  • The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love (They played the new album in its entirety at an official SXSW showcase, which was also streamed on NPR. I've listened to it, but this concept album demands more of my time.)
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • Emmy the Great - First Love
  • Hey Marseilles - To Travels & Trunks

Friday, March 27, 2009

Life is Absurd, and Yesterday I Noticed

I love the absurd. Strange things happen to me fairly regularly, and I should record them. All this happened yesterday:

It was about 10 a.m., and I heard a soft knock at the door. I figured it was the Jehovah's Witnesses because they're the only people who come by at 10 a.m. Sure enough, it was! But they were Spanish-speaking-only JWs. When I answered the door, they immediately started speaking Spanish to me (and I understood a good bit of it). Finally, one of them stopped and asked me, "Do you speak Spanish?" I answered with an enthusiastic "No!" They handed me two tracts (in English) and went on to the next house.

I received my Berry Alumni magazine in the mail yesterday, and tucked inside was a copy of the Spring 2009 newsletter for the United States Sports Academy. We get a lot of mail for the house's previous tenants, so I thought perhaps it was for one of them. No: It was addressed to a woman living in Philadelphia. It was post-marked out of Macon, Georgia, which is strange because the return address is in Alabama. My theory is that somewhere in Georgia, the Sports Academy newsletter slid into my Berry magazine and never saw the light of day until it reached Austin.

Finally, according to the Austin Chronicle, Danny DeVito will be in Austin tomorrow to sign bottles of his Limoncello liqueur. I texted most of my friends in Austin about it. My favorite reactions:
  • Gloria: If that isn't the bottom of the barrel, I don't know what is.
  • Dave: Weird. I love that butterball of a man.
  • Kev: Man, everybody's coming out with their own booze these days.
  • Leslie: Crazy I didn't know he had a liquor. What is it Wild Turkey?
And if you're interested in getting a bottle of Limoncello signed by Mr. DeVito, he'll be at the Twin Liquors at the Hancock Center tomorrow from 11 to 1.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SXSW: RIP (Until Next Year)

Well, you'd had never known there was financial crisis going on, based on the annual insanity that is South by Southwest. Here are my highlights:
  • Paste magazine's free showcases. Free beer (in the morning), more free stuff, and lots and lots of great, free music. I could be in love with a publication.
  • Spotting Joseph Gordon Levitt at a party at the Mohawk. (Remember him? The kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun and 10 Things I Hate About You)
  • Au Revoir Simone. They are cute and endearing and so very Willaimsburg-hipster. Anslee and I met them on the Sixth Street Thursday night. We told them we loved their set at the Paste show, and they introduced themselves and talked to us for a little while.
  • Speaking of Williamsburg, if I had a dollar for everytime someone said, "I'm from Brooklyn but I'm thinking about moving here" I wouldn't be job searching right now.
  • That said, I don't want any Willaimsburg hipsters moving here. Being invaded once a year for a week is enough. We have enough of you skinny-jeaned, pretentious, pasty New Yorkers. Stay where you are. (Clarification: The ones I met were lovely people. I'd just rather they stay in New York. Texas is too hot for them anyway.)
  • The Round. Started in Seattle and transpanted in Austin courtesy of my friends at the Space12 community center, this gathering of artists was one the best events at SX this year.

Bands I saw (keep in mind I never paid a single cover):
The Wooden Birds
The Sad Accordians
Loney, Dear
M. Ward
Bishop Allen
The Wrens
The Avett Brothers
Little Boots
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Motel Motel
J. Tillman of Fleet Foxes
Laura Gibson
Loch Lomond
Hey Marsailles
King Kahn and the Shrines
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
Vivian Girls
The Thermals
Explosions in the Sky
And I know there are more but I can't remember right now.

Conspiracy Theorists, Prepare

Yep. The apocalypse is comin.

Also, a SXSW recap is coming.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Middle Cyclone on NPR

Remember when I wrote that post about NPR previewing Andrew Bird's new album?

Well, they've done it again: They're previewing my indie-rock lady crush Neko Case's new album Middle Cyclone. I'm only on track 2, but I love her so much I already like it.

Listen here.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I'm ecstatic that Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture. It was the best movie I saw in 2008 (other than maybe Wall-E, which should've been nominated for Best Picture). I find the criticism somewhat warranted, seeing as the film was made by a mostly British crew.

In that context, I found this story/slideshow (and the comments) interesting. I'm happy to see people in Mumbai's slums celebrating this film, but there is a strange juxtaposition of such great poverty next to glitzy, glamorous Hollywood.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Saving the Suburbs?

I'm pretty much convinced that our American way of life will cease to exist within the next century. Hopefully, it won't be as desolate as Cormac McCarthy's depiction in The Road. Or as bad as those Canadian crackpots (or as I like to think of them, prophets) claim in the documentary The End of Suburbia.

But it looks like I'm not the only crazy one out there! New York Times blogger Allison Areiff has posted, not one, but two entries on saving the suburbs. I'm not sure such a feat is possible, but Ms. Areiff has offered some seemingly viable alternatives.

And props to KRDB Architects in Austin for getting a mention in the second post.

However: I still think the apocalypse is coming, folks. We need to learn how to garden.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Check Your Kid's Homework

This has made its way around the fowarded email circuit, but it's so funny, I had to share.

Note from the child's mother to the teacher:
Dear Mrs. Jones,
I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.
I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot.
From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.
Mrs. Smith

Friday, January 30, 2009

I Jumped the Gun

I wasn't so sure the Dating A Banker Anonymous blog was real or just fluffy web satire. But then again, it was covered in the NY Times, so it had to be real, right?

Then I read NPR's Monkey See blog, which follows pop culture in the way that I would follow pop culture. (Read my post from a few days ago. You'll get the idea.) Monkey See blogger Linda Holmes did a little research into the DABA blog, and she pretty much convinced me it is fake.

I'm a sucker for anything that makes me feel superior to rich people, I guess.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pop Culture Hypocrisy

Sometimes I wonder if I'm only kidding myself that I'm distinctly high-brow when it comes to pop culture. I like to think I only expose myself to books, movies (or "film" as I like to think of it) and television I can consider art or commentary or above mainstream American appeal.

Who am I kidding?

Let's see - Top Chef, the highest rated food show on cable. The Office, one the most watched comedies on TV. And Juno? The largest grossing indie film in Fox Searchlight history.

I was going to write a post about my "issues" with the Oscar nominations, but the Gaza conflict has started up again, the Congo's death toll is more than 5 million and even here in Austin, the refugee population is rising. And all I can blog about is the Academy Award nominations? Does anyone watch the Academy Awards anymore?

But I'm not going to feel guilty. I think there's enough room in my life for passionate social justice activism and shallow love of media. After all, sometimes a film comes around that changes the way we think. Sometimes, a TV show can give us vital social commentary or even influence the outcome of an election. (Thanks, Tina.)

Now I gotta come back to my original point: Maybe the stuff I watch and read is slightly more ... quality than what most Americans are watching. But a lot of other people are into this stuff, too, and I'm ready to admit that I'm not any better than the mindless masses when it comes to my favorite shows and movies.

There is one specific reason I mention this: I bought Seasons 1 and 2 of 30 Rock, and I can't stop watching it. I spent about four hours yesterday watching Discs 1 and 2 of Season 1. I even had a dream about Jenna arguing with Liz.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Beef with Top Chef

I consider myself a practical foodie. I like accessible, affordable, and healthy food. I enjoy eating out and learning more about the palate. I'm an amateur home cook and a semi-professional local restaurant critic (professional only when The Onion decides to print my reviews, which isn't all that often).

So with this healthy obsession with good food, it's no surprise that I'm addicted to Bravo's Top Chef. The contestants on the show are high caliber, and the judges are the best of the best of the culinary world. I can only be in awe of the people on this show.

However, I have some issues with the show:
  • The Judges: Sometimes, I think the judges are too critical. I guess if my palate was as refined and I was being paid oodles of money to criticize food on television, I'd probably be a downright bitch, too. But they don't seem to enjoy the food at all. It can't be that bad. Sometimes it looks disgusting, but really, it can't be as terrible as they say it is. I think they exaggerate for the camera.

  • Padma: She does have some expertise, but for someone who has a BA in theater and no culinary training, I have a hard time trusting her as much as the other judges. She's my least favorite aspect of the show, but she's a supermodel, so she's not going anywhere. (Side note, Top Chef needs a Tim Gunn, a mentor who helps the contestants along but doesn't judge them.)

  • The Challenges: They are put under immense pressure during these ridiculous challenges. That's why it's good television. But sometimes, I wish the judges would take the challenges into account. I mean, it's got to be nearly impossible to create Thanksgiving dinner using toaster ovens, microwaves, and one burner. Ridiculous. I don't think they should make the challenges easier, but the judges should keep the challenge and conditions in mind when they judge the food.

  • This Week's Elimination: I'm most disappointed with the outcome as last night's show. Arianne was sent home because she made a poor lamb dish. But she was on a team that let her down. For those not watching the show, Arianne was on a team with two contestants who seem to have a romantic/sexual chemistry. I have a conspiracy theory that the producers encouraged the judges to oust Arianne because they want to develop the Hosea-Leah storyline. If so, it's bull shit and I thought Top Chef was a more highbrow competition reality show.
Needless to say, I'm bummed that Arianne is gone. But I'll keep watching for now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Are We Getting the Full Story? Do We Even Want It?

From the New York Times: Few in U.S. See Jazeera’s Coverage of Gaza War

Honestly, I'm glad this story was featured on the New York Times's website yesterday because I've been wondering if we've been getting a good picture of what's going on in Gaza. With borders closed and nearly 40 percent of casualties affecting women and children (this is not including grown male civilians), this war almost sounds like genocide.

The article above makes me wonder if here in the U.S. - the land of free speech and open media - we're experiencing a form of self-censorship. Perhaps we aren't getting the full story of this war (possibly about our own wars in the Middle East). I understand that Al-Jazeera is probably biased. Sure. It makes sense. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be getting stories from inside Gaza just because our government's been in bed with Israel since its foundation.

I have to wonder if we value our free speech and free press enough to be asking these questions. Americans are afraid to ask questions that may lead to more unsettling ones, but I always believed the system would get the right information out there. But it seems we've gotten a little too comfortable and the media isn't doing its job. So what next? Start watching Al-Jazeera on YouTube?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Yep. CDs Are Obsolete.

Are most albums these days released online for free in some form?

Andrew Bird's latest isn't officially out until January 20, but NPR went ahead and put up for free on December 23. Well, you can stream it for free. Listen here.

As of track 3, it's a little cheerier than past efforts, and a little more produced. Plenty of whistling still, so I'm pleased.

Monday, January 5, 2009

More on the Food Issue

The New York Times has published a few op-eds on the future of agriculture and food in this country. (Read them here and here.)

I keep thinking that in the next 50 years, the United States must become more agrarian simply to survive. Sometimes I play out a scenario of an environmental and economic apocalypse that destroys life as we know. Not life itself. People will keep living, but we won't be living this way. It's more than gardening, recycling, changing our lightbulbs. It's systemic. And we've got to do more.

If you're interested, take a good look at the Food Democracy Now website and read some of Michael Pollan's books. I think we can actually make some changes through grassroots politics. But we've got to do something.