Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Music Venue with Racy Name

On Fourth Street behind our future home downtown there is a venerable music venue. (The name means Red Light District in Spanish, I believe, but there's none of that!) It was started, at least in part, by a friend of ours maybe in the '80's? He's out of it now. It's not as old as Scholz's or anything. (We'll visit there one day.) It has a big open hall in the back with a stage for big shows. Our friend called that the Marcia Ball Room.

We will be surrounded by the arts at our new home downtown. The Austin Music Hall is being rebuilt across Third Street from us. And we will be able to see into the glass-walled Armstrong-Connelly studio of the Butler Dance Education Center from our balcony. Our building's motto is 'life surrounds you.' It's corny but sort of true!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Colorful Watering Cans

Here's another shot from that wonderful, homey conclave of stores on South First that we stopped by the other day. This brightly-colored batch of watering cans seemed to cry out for a photo. Actually, I wish the place had been open-- I would have bought one for my back yard.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

So Many Guitars!

We went downtown on Friday to see a performance in the Austin Ventures Studio in the Butler Dance Education Center. After, the rain had taken a break so we went to Jo's on Second Street for a refreshment. There are two more guitars on Second Street. FFP posed with them so you could get a sense of how large they are. I'll post the other one another day.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Austin Towers

Austin is now envisioning itself with a skyline full of big towers. See here. This one, The Frost Bank Tower, is a few years old now and really exists. If you followed that link, you saw a lot of towers that are under construction or 'proposed.' But the Frost Tower is already there, but it's all office space and most of the new space shown in that rendering is residential.

We aren't Miami with speculators watching the market plunge, but I don't suppose we will be immune from the boom and bust and the current woes in lending and housing. So it wouldn't surprise me if there were delays in ground-breaking or projects that never finished. Our future home (The 360...warning annoying music if you follow the link) is now at about 29 or 30 floors (of an eventual 44) and has a lot of the glass installed on those floors. We figure it will actually be finished and occupied more or less on the schedule the developer is touting now. Projects without the proverbial 'spade of dirt' I'm not so sure about.

Nevertheless, the Frost Tower stands now and is currently the tallest building in Austin. Our condo tower will be slightly taller. Other projects are projected to go even taller.

I thought about running a picture of rain since it keeps raining here. I even shot some pictures of our back yard being inundated. But the sun came out with the blue sky and I shot this picture of the Frost Tower from Third Street yesterday because this iconic building certainly deserves to be part of this photo collection.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tequila Mockingbird

Last night we ate (at Clay Pit) and saw a show (at the Scottish Rite Theater) in the area 'just south of UT.' Next door to Clay Pit (which is itself in a historic native stone building that used to be a store) is a audio studio called Tequila Mockingbird. On the back of their building is this mural of (one presumes) a pesky mockingbird (our state bird) stealing the music. Mockingbirds imitate other birds and can attack other critters. My dad saw one pestering a roadrunner (yes, they do exist outside of cartoons). In any case, the mockingbird is better than a pack of grackles who like to occupy areas in great numbers leaving car owners sorry they parked under trees. Of course, we wouldn't want to meet this giant avian critter on the mural in any case.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Latin American Influence

This is a photo of a shop window on South Congress that belongs to Turquoise Door. They sell jewelry and artifacts from the Southwest and Latin America. (If you click on the picture, you can see us, although I'm obscured a bit.)

Texas borders on Mexico. From Austin, it is only a little farther to Mexico than Dallas. You can get to Mexico from Austin quicker than you can get out of the state in any other direction. Still it is 234 miles to Laredo (374 kilometers). But the influence of Mexico (and Latin America) is strong. What is now Texas has been under six flags since the natives who were here when Europeans showed up ranged over it. (Mexico, Spain, France, Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America and, of course, the U.S. of A.). So this was Mexico once. You will see lots of people with Southwestern and Latin American decor in their homes. And on their bodies with Mexican and Southwestern Indian influenced jewelry. It is not really our thing, but shops like this cater to the residents (and tourists) who love it. I've shopped here for other people. Skeletons and skulls are popular artifacts, used in the Day of the Dead celebrations. As are colorful and fantastical wooden animals, handmade in Oaxaca (a state and city of Mexico).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Guitar Redux

I don't know how long the decorated guitars are staying scattered around our fair city and I'm not sure where they all are. It is fun to just notice them as you go around town. This one is outside Royal Blue Grocery on Third Street. It was night time and I had to struggle a little to get enough light but as you can see this guitar seems to be playing itself! We have shown another guitar here on ADP and you will also find one here on one of my other blogs.

Update: One of our readers offers a link for the guitar town display. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Under Construction

When we were down on South Congress the other night, the shop Blackmail had its window under construction. Since French is sort of the second language of the Daily Photo world, I thought I'd post this picture with their sign. I will loosely translate with my school French: "display window under construction." That's our reflection in the window and there were a few things scattered about in the window so perhaps this was really a finished window and it was meant to be 'tongue in cheek' chic. Using French is an American's way of feeling a bit highbrow, you know. Or at least a Texan's way. This store has lots of things in black. Its companion store, Vivid, has the brightest of colors. They are right next door to each other and have a pass through to each other inside, too. I believe the owners satisfy their own 'black' moods and 'vivid' moods this way and hope to sell to your mood, too.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Tuesday night last week, we went to a cool new restaurant called Botticelli's here in town to hear our pal Laura Phelan and a band she plays with. That's Laura at the far left in back on vibes. The band's full name is Matthew Shepherd and The Ruckus.

The restaurant has a garden stage out back, as you can see. The photo is hazy and in a couple of spots, you see some movement, but that kind of adds to the authenticity of it all.

Laura is also a fantastic composer, singer and piano player. The music this band plays is jazz, but with Latin influences. We had a nice dinner (I had black drum with figs and a very delicate but spicy orange broth and radicchio -- it almost seemed as if the fish was poached in the sauce) and listened for a set. The band was very accomplished. The guitar player seemed to be the leader and composer for most of the tunes.

I snapped this shot while they were in mid-song. Such a typical Austin scene of talented young people trying to catch a break. Such a typical Austin night with the warm glow of the setting sun providing a back light for the photo, good food and wine on the table, and my soulmate by my side.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I've seen a butterfly or two displayed lately especially on Texas Daily Photo spots. This one was perched on a sunflower at Boggy Creek Farm when we went there last week.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pink chairs

Linda and I like to take shots of store windows. The shop owners along South Congress often have especially clever displays. This one of pink chairs with plates on the seats seems to be a grownup's version of a tea party being set for children's dolls.

Friday, July 20, 2007


This is the model of the 360 Condominiums in the Sales Office. We went to a little reception last night there, showed our decorator the model and I took the picture. There were people all around pointing out their units so I cropped them out of the picture although part of one fellow's shirt is reflected there. And, heck, the sky is sometimes just about that blue in Austin although I, of course, selected it from the color palate. Although just now the sky is gray. As I write this there is a deluge of rain falling although my TV weather said there were pockets of 'moderate to light rain.'

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Flavors of Austin

When we were on South Congress a couple of nights ago, I tried out the 'Night Landscape' Scene mode of my Nikon Coolpix P4 to catch the neon at Doc's. The place was packed. I venture to say the flavors were of beer! The place is an old car repair place and has kept that theme. Guess we will have to check it out some time. And have a beer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rock On

We were going to stay home last night. Nothing on the calendar. But a friend was playing vibes in a band performing in the garden of a restaurant on South Congress where the food was supposed to be pretty good. So there we were on South Congress. When we parked I noticed that one of Austin's giant guitars that are sprinkled around town was in front of the Pink Salon and Boutique. Its decoration is kind of spooky. Hmm...now I wish I'd looked to see if the work had a title. These decorated guitar shapes will be around for a while (like the cows or bears or crabs of other cities) and then they'll be sold for charity, I think. There is another up by Guero's as shown here. At least it was still there the other day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Something old, something new

Linda and I were downtown one Sunday afternoon not long ago and I snapped this shot contrasting an old Austin landmark with the high-rise face of the new central city.

The Hoffbrau is a place that has been there (I think) longer than the sixty-one years I have been alive. Unless there has been a major transformation, they serve something like three (maybe it's only two) cuts of beef, a salad which is chopped lettuce slathered with vinegar and spices and a side of home style potatoes. That's it. Oh, I think they serve bread, too. And there used to be guys lining up on the sidewalk at 11:30 to get into the place so that they wouldn't miss out.

The tall building in the background has been there something like six years now. In the office suite at the top is a major-league venture capital firm run by a friend of ours. We've been to many a meeting up there for Ballet Austin and you wouldn't believe the magnificent art collection they have on their walls.

Austin's changing -- but it's still retaining its character.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Texas Spirit(s)

Daniel Barnes is making rum in Central Texas from all Texas ingredients. He was pouring samples at one of the neatest invitation only receptions of the weekend on Saturday night. (No, not for Lady Bird's mourners. This one was for the birthday of a local food writer and was held at the iconic Boggy Creek Farms and had lots of locally famous foodies contributing to one ultimate pot luck.) Daniel and his lovely companion (sorry, didn't get her name) posed with the rum they are making from raw materials sourced in Texas. It's called Treaty Oak Platinum. They were giving away samples at the party. Daniel and his company join several other Central Texans who distill here. I understand it's good to eat local food (saving transportation and such). That must go for liquor as well!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

You Gotta Have Heart

We snapped this picture on South First. The symbolic bleeding heart is a common Mexican folk symbol. I'm not sure what this sign was announcing, however.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


This flag of the great state of Texas dips in tribute to Lady Bird Johnson (December 22, 1912- July 11, 2007). I guess no one noticed how much the crepe myrtles would impinge on the flags here when they were at half mast. However, how appropriate a tribute to the lady who put tried to put the natural world above politics.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Life Surrounds You

"Life Surrounds You" is the motto for the condo complex we hope to live in starting sometime next year. Their sales office is on Rio Grande between 5th and 6th. The building itself is on Nueces. (Between Third and Fourth and, apparently, it will have the address 360 Nueces.) The picture was taken from Sixth Street looking south and a little east at the building from the sales office. This was taken last Sunday. Compared to the photo in the title layout you can see that it continues to rise. (I keep intending to replace the title photo. The 360 is taller and the Intel shell shown there is completely flattened and waiting for ground-breaking for a new Federal Court House. But I do like the energy the picture gives off.)

A little aside about street names. Most of the downtown east-west streets have numbers but used to be named for trees. (See here.) But the downtown north-south streets are named for some of the major Texas rivers. And the river streets that are further west are further south in the state. This means that they logically proceed from Rio Grande (where this sales office is) to Nueces, San Antonio, Guadalupe and Lavaca to Colorado. Here we are interrupted by Congress. Then we have Brazos, San Jacinto, Trinity, Neches and, finally, Red River. So, if you know the rivers you know a little street geography and if you don't you soon will by traversing the streets. Of course, there are more rivers than this in Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife department has given names to 11,247 rivers and streams! The Rio Grande is the longest and the next longest is the Red River. They form a good deal of the boundary of the state. Our Colorado River, however, is not the one that courses through the Grand Canyon but a smaller river that actually flows through Austin and is formed into a series of man made lakes. Town Lake is downtown. Lake Austin is the next one north and is shown here.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Making You Stop

This old motorcycle with its 'rider' is what made Forrest pull over on South First to take pictures at the shops I talked about yesterday. The artists the reader was talking about yesterday who has a shop in the back apparently made this.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Weird Poster

Yes, it says "the long blondes someone to drive you home." It was plastered on a wall at a little complex on South First that included a record store called End of an Ear and a funky garden store and maybe a junk shop and some performance space. Even with better grammar (should there be an apostrophe in 'blondes?') I'm not sure I'd understand the poster . It was Sunday and the little complex was quiet, mostly closed. But the whole outfit was definitely doing its part to keep Austin weird. And the record store's name was a play on the eye as well as the 'ear.' A visual pun. Right across the street from all this funky stuff was a shiny new retail complex that had been almost finished and had tenants like a bike shop and the office of one of those free giveaway papers called Austin Daze.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sign Recycling

This is the kind of thing I love about Austin. For as long as I can remember, Cothron's Key and Lock Shop was on Rio Grande between Fifth and Sixth. For whatever reason, they decided to close that store and a fish taco restaurant went into the site. The fish taco guys just decided to paint over the landmark key sign with their own jaunty logo, preserving the iconic status of the place. Pretty cool.

Actually, when you look at it, the shape of the sign suggests waves that the fish is leaping out of. Works for me!

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Capital Idea

We are already on our 54th post and even though we live in the Capital City of Texas, we have been remiss in featuring pictures that reflected that.

This was taken on Congress Avenue which effectively wraps itself around the Capitol Building after wending its way north from deep in the south of Austin on the other side of the river (which is really Town Lake in the downtown area). Congress Avenue north of the Capitol is ho-hum with state offices but it is Main Street Austin from the Capitol (at 11th Street) to the Congress Avenue Bridge (which has a seasonal population of a million or so Mexican free-tailed bats) and is a hip emerging neighborhood for a dozen or so blocks south of there.

The historic sign identifies the old name for 10th Street. Once streets running east and west had tree names. The famous 6th Street (famous for bars with a propensity for young drinkers now) was once Pecan Street. Apparently 10th was Mulberry. The sign had for some reason lost the 'E' in Mulberry so I sort of edited it in to satisfy my sensibilities. FFP was distressed as we stood there looking at the sign yesterday. He's an editor at heart. (I also turned up the light on the sign itself since the Capitol was so bright in the setting sun.)

For those of you interested in more obscure views of the city, they are sure to come soon! But we just had to show the Capitol since we are in the Capital City. (And we also needed to clear up that capital and capitol thing. And it seems that sometimes capitol is lower case if you aren't referring to the Washington one. But this is Texas folks. And, even though the building was built after we became part of these United States and left for the Civil War and joined up again, we never forget we were an independent nation. So, yeah, we give it a capital 'C.' It's a capital idea. And there are lots of banks downtown so if you need a little capital...you get the idea.)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Riding in Style

While we were waiting to go inside the Seaholm Power Plant for a tour the other night, we were visiting with a friend who runs one of Austin's favorite and most successful jewelry stores. She and one of her daughters started a limo service called Pink Car for women travelers a few years ago. (She was inspired to do that after a bad incident she had with a rude taxi driver.)

They have stopped running it, but they still drive the Escalade that they bought for it. As you can see, they had it painted this distinctive color and it makes you notice it when you spot it in Austin traffic.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Our Back Yard Band

Here is the French horn player in our back yard band-- we have five musicians in it -- a tuba, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and (as you see) French horn. The French horn player is the only female.

We commissioned the crafting of these musicians by local artisans years ago and they have given us no end of pleasure. I do love our back yard, but it's like being married to a "trophy spouse." High maintenance indeed. Linda put it beautifully-- we might as well have mulched up $100 bills and used them for fertilizer.

No doubt, I'll miss my musicians when we leave this place next spring to move to the condo downtown, but "some doors close and others open."

Friday, July 6, 2007

Beers on Tap

I have selected a picture for today that FFP took a few weeks ago. He was looking around for red things for the July theme day. That candle looked more red in real life. We were in the Elephant Room, a basement jazz club on Congress Avenue. We were taking a tour around downtown, eating and listening to music. The sign shows all the beers on tap at the Elephant Room. What looks like a watermark on the picture is actually something printed on the plastic sign holder. On closer inspection it says "Celis Brewery, Inc., Austin, Texas." Celis was a Belgium-style brewery that was in Austin for a while. That brewery had bona fides because the family responsible for Hoegaarden apparently ran it. My favorite brews on this list are Guinness, Shiner Bock (a Central Texas brew), Schweider Weisse and Fat Tire (a Colorado brew in the Belgium tradition). There was a time when the American beer scene was not a pretty one. That time is long past, though. These beers are all on tap in this little basement joint playing jazz 365 days a year. Hmm...writing this up kind of makes me want to suggest 'beer' as a theme day. In any case, I think I'll give you an occasional beer entry for Austin. I'm really the beer drinker in the family although my tastes in adult beverages are fairly wide-ranging.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Deer Dining in the Back Yard

We had a Fourth of July dinner with friends at their Northwest Hills home last night and we were treated to the sight of these "pets" of theirs. The deer population along the greenbelt behind their home is pretty ample, as you can see. There were at least three generations lining up for carrots. Here you see grandma checking the freshness of the comestibles.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


That's an Austin skyline. But backwards. And, no downtown doesn't have a multi-story billboard. This fantasy skyline is reflected in the window of the Salvation Army Thrift Store, which is in the strip center at 1100 or so S. Lamar. (This center has the Alamo Drafthouse South in it and that's why I was there last Friday.) I'm thinking a mirror in the thrift store's furniture department or some other reflection accounts for what looks like a giant screen appearing in the middle of downtown. Click on the image for a larger version if you want to look further into this illusion.

And for those following along at home I do believe you can see the condo building going up where we will one day live if all goes well. And the Capitol Building peeks out nearby.

As I've mentioned here before, I'm somewhat obsessed with shop window pictures but we will keep them to a minimum here and I'll satisfy that obsession on my other blog.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

It's Summer in Austin

OK, I'll admit, this was our backup plan for "Red Day." But I do love the sight of cannas -- we have some orange ones in our backyard and this beauty is in the yard of a neighbor. When I was a kid, I used to think that they were big paint dabs from the sky.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Changing Face of Downtown

This photo that Linda shot not long ago of the west side of Congress Avenue at 10th Street shows how things are changing in the heart of Austin. A couple of decades ago, it seemed like half the stores on Congress Avenue, our main street that extends south from the state capitol, were shuttered. Now you see situations like this, where an older building is being expanded with an additional floor on top and converted into a private home. And just to the south (left in this photo) of this building are two new high-end restaurants and a popular locally-owned coffee shop which are attracting serious crowds. It's interesting to see the essential nature of downtown Austin morphing to being a friendlier place where people live and enjoy themselves. (Of course, that will include Linda and me by this time next year. In fact, this area will be just a leisurely walk from our condo.)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Big Red

This collection of blogs called Daily City Photo has a 'theme day' on the first day of each month. Blogs that wish to participate take a picture along the lines of the theme. Today's Daily Photo theme is red. Yes, just the color red. We have been thinking for a few weeks what to post. Then I was going through photos and found this. It is a gift basket that was on offer at the precious little grocery/deli/antiques and collectibles store called P&K Grocery a few months back. Big Red is a popular soft drink (soda pop, 'coke', pop) in the Southern United States and in Texas. Or it once was. It tastes like liquid candy if memory serves. The grocer seems to have kept more or less to the red theme with what looks like some kind of private label soap or confection and an antique painted toy.

I find that Big Red was born in Waco, Texas. Which is also famous for...Dr. Pepper. Fertile ground for soft drinks on the Brazos River.

To see red around the world, surf here:

Shanghai, China - Mumbai, India - New York City (NY), USA - Manila, Philippines - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Hamburg, Germany - Stayton (OR), USA - Los Angeles (CA), USA - Hyde, UK - Oslo, Norway - Brookville (OH), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Stavanger, Norway - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - Joplin (MO), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Selma (AL), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Chandler (AZ), USA - Stockholm, Sweden - Seattle (WA), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Arradon, France - Evry, France - Baton Rouge (LA), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Boston (MA), USA - Grenoble, France - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Hilo (HI), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - La Antigua, Guatemala - Brisbane (QLD), Australia - Singapore, Singapore - Tel Aviv, Israel - Hong Kong, China - Sequim (WA), USA - Paderborn, Germany - Saarbrücken, Germany - Rotterdam, Netherlands - Tenerife, Spain - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Sydney, Australia - Naples (FL), USA - Cologne (NRW), Germany - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Mainz, Germany - Toruń, Poland - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Singapore, Singapore - North Bay (ON), Canada - Jakarta, Indonesia - Montréal (QC), Canada - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Baziège, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Prague, Czech Republic - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - New York (NY), USA - Kajang (Selangor), Malaysia - Sharon (CT), USA - Newcastle (NSW), Australia - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Nottingham, UK - Villigen, Switzerland - Chicago (IL), USA - Torquay, UK - Brussels, Belgium - San Diego (CA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Paris, France - Seoul, Korea - Manila, Philippines - Milano, Italy - Austin (TX), USA - Chennai, India - Madrid, Spain - Seoul, South Korea - Wailea (HI), USA - Toronto (ON), Canada - Ajaccio, France - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Zurich, Switzerland - Sydney, Australia - Budapest, Hungary - Moscow, Russia - Auckland, New Zealand - Torino, Italy