Sunday, September 30, 2007

Old Time Blur

In downtown Austin there are horse-drawn carriages. I was trying to get a picture of one Friday night at dusk. I had the camera setting wrong. Then the carriage moved. I got two pictures, though, that were unexpectedly interesting. This is one of them. I've never taken a carriage ride and I forget they are around until I hear the horses hoofs plodding along or suddenly see one.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dreams Realized

Ballet Austin's Butler Dance Education Center is now open and Thursday marked the opening of their 51st Season. The dream of a performing arts center for Austin is still a few months away so this production, Midsummer Night's Dream, is being performed in the Paramount Theater and I stepped out as far into the street last night as I safely could given the traffic and the two Manhattans I had at the Austin Club to shoot the marquee of this historic theater for you. The performance was beautifully adapted to the facility. (You can still get tickets to see it.)

Puck had everyone dreaming of love in this show (and getting married in the end) and dreams will be realized for the rest of the season with Clara dreaming of all those adventures with the Nutcracker and a dance competition for up and coming choreographers and Don Quixote tilting at windmills at the Long Center. It's easy to see why Dreams Realized is the theme of this year's Ballet Austin season.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Different House

This house might not look out of place in other parts of the world but it looks a little different here in Austin. It belonged to a woodcarver and his work can be seen inside and outside the house. (We went to a Heritage Society party in the home once.) It is located in Austin's Hyde Park area and the woodcarver was Peter Mansbendel.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Not So Little Any More

Austin is not such a little city anymore and I'm not sure where this place got its name, but tucked away on Congress Avenue between two upscale locally-owned dining spots (Jezebel and Cibo), is a locally-owned coffee emporium (Little City) that also has food, wine, beer and a great concrete floor (and table) vibe. There are even a few seats on the sidewalk. Congress Avenue has a Starbucks, too. And at least one chain restaurant. But you can bask in local color and check out other people's ink (tattoos) and piercings any day right there in the shadow of the Texas Capital at Little City. Life is good. And caffeinated.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One Last Guitar

Now that the guitars are lost to us (unless one of you buys one and displays it where we can go take pictures) I'll run this last shot before it's lost in the crush of the archives. This one was on Second Street by the AMLI. We are going downtown tonight so I hope you can expect something interesting and fresh tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Good Life

I recently showed you shots from eateries Hyde Park Bar and Grill and ASTI in Austin's Hyde Park. That same little area contains several other home-grown dining spots. This one serves espresso, gelato, breakfast, lunch and, if I'm not mistaken, can satisfy a late night desire for a toast of cognac or Sambucca. La Dolce Vita indeed! If you are in this neighborhood, the little commercial area around 43rd and Duval is the spot to find some food.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Feeding Austin

The guy on the right is FFP, of course, posing with Eddie Bernal who is responsible for what the social set eats in Austin more often than they may realize. He operates 34th Street Cafe, Santa Rita Cantina and Blue Star Cafeteria (which isn't a stand in line with trays place but rather a comfortable cafe). But 34th Street Catering also feeds a lot of Austin parties. We were at an interesting house high above Lady Bird (Town) Lake last night in honor of Austin's Shakespeare group and the food had a Cuban feel (tortas, empanadas, peppers and chorizo on a stick), maybe because the group is planning to translate Shakespeare into Spanish. The house is very Zen as you can see by the pool and landscaping behind the guys.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Guitar!

This picture was taken in August. The guitar depicts a cartoon music note in a hilly landscape with a blue sky. This example was in front of the Children's Museum. I'm using the past tense because I believe the guitars made an appearance at ACL and may be on their way to a gala charity auction. We walked by Antone's on Thursday night and that guitar was gone. In case, you were wanting a ten foot guitar art thing here are the details. Really must get some new pictures today!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bleeding Orange

A week ago Friday we went to see a neat production of "The Magic Flute" at the Butler Opera Center on the UT Campus. FFP mentioned it here when we ran a picture of the construction at the football stadium. I also snapped this picture of the UT Tower and the fountain west of San Jacinto. The tower was bathed in orange which usually means a sports victory. We couldn't figure out why it was lit, though. The football game was the next day. I'm not a UT Alum, but FFP is. I have occasionally gotten caught up in UT sports, though, especially the Women's 1986 Basketball team and the Women's 1988 Volleyball Team, both of whom won championships in storybook fashion. I read a book while the UT football team toiled for the 2005 title. Actually I was at a party, but it was crowded and I couldn't see any of the TVs from a comfortable perch. Anyway, I spent about fifteen minutes this morning looking for my account of that evening. After National Championships, they light up windows to make a big '1' on the tower. [I'm certain FFP will correct any errors in my account of UT sports protocol!]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Downtown Joe (Jo)

I showed you the South Congress version of this local establishment earlier. This Jo's is on Second Street. They serve coffee (hot), sandwiches and, as you can see, wine and beer. When we live downtown and want to go out for a cuppa, this would be one of the choices. They also have live music sometimes and a good-sized area on the expansive sidewalk for dog owners to linger with their fare. We won't be moving downtown with a dog. (See here.) But our friend is moving downtown with our niece dog, Zoey, a standard poodle. I guess Jo's is a 'chain.' But really there are only the two locations!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Toy Joy

Toy Joy is a very unusual store on Guadalupe near the UT campus. While it is certainly possible to buy things for kids here (on my visit last Saturday they had a supply of an interesting Italian rubber riding toy) they cater more to college kids (and people who never grew up, like me). My friend and I walked around the store Saturday after eating a Greek salad and splitting a gyro across the street at Milto's.

While we admired a supply of two-headed babies (Halloween item?), a large man held up a rubber ducky with horns and ask the cashier, "Is this a UT tradition?"

"No," she said. "It's just an evil ducky."

Well, the horns did look a little burnt orange to me, although they were devil horns, not longhorn horns. Gives you an idea for a new variation on the rubber ducky, though.

"I'm from out of town so I had to ask," the large man said but not with much apology in his voice.

I used to collect toys before I became the downsizing queen. (More on that at The Visible Woman.) And my favorite thing to collect were "Bendable, Posable, Collectible" figures. You know like Gumby and Poky , those claymation characters brought to life with rubber with wire inside. I didn't buy anything on Saturday. Back in my collecting days I would have been tempted by Simpsons figures in Halloween costumes and some Gumby figures in outfits. But no more! My companion bought some bubble gum. I filed away things they had for kids for future reference.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More Seating For Football

We went to The University of Texas campus last Friday night to hear "The Magic Flute" sung by the students in the Butler Opera Center. When we left, we stopped to take some shots of the construction on Memorial Stadium where the UT Longhorns play football. Linda snapped this striking photo while standing west of the stadium looking back towards the north side.

This view shows the huge crane that is in place for the project. They are adding more seats so more people can see the Longhorns in action.

This view of the stadium always brings back great memories for me of my time in The Longhorn Band. Back then, our rehearsal space was just across the street to the north of the stadium, so we would line up and march across the street into the arena. You know, I don't care how jaded you think you are; it was always a thrill to march into that stadium and play "Texas Fight" while 50,000 people went wild.

As Linda points out in her comment, we don't go to the stadium much any longer. When we were first married back in the seventies, we sometimes went to see UT football games there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Encore Austin

Yeah, we are still in Austin. But on North Lamar there is an antique shop that has a replica of the Eiffel Tower that is about twenty feet tall. Once it got stolen but it was returned. How do you steal something so tall? I can't comment on the shop because I'm not sure I've ever been inside.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Birthday Bash

A friend of ours threw a party for his partner's 30th birthday Saturday night. He heads up Austin Cabaret Theatre, so as you might expect, it was quite a "do." Catered food served up in many courses, full bar, a lighted tent in their huge yard and the Kris Kimura Quartet playing jazz standards for our dancing pleasure. Linda took this shot with the flash off, so it showed the dramatic lighting effects to best advantage. We saw a lot of people we know and had a great time chatting and socializing. Linda and I are lucky to have so many friends who like to party and have fun.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another Hyde Park Eatery

There are several eateries around 43rd and Duval in Hyde Park. Hyde Park Bar and Grill is one of the most venerable. And iconic. (Little Austin joke.) They say they are located at 'the fork in the road.' The giant fork, topped with French Fries at the moment, is what they mean. They have generous portions of freshly-made food, famous fries and are often crowded. Their midnight closing makes them popular after events. The owners are friends of ours and they are really nice people. They recently opened another restaurant in south Austin with the same name and serving similar fare. Since they took over the former location of a chain restaurant, you have to celebrate that.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Grab a Drink and a Meal on the Way

If you want to grab a drink and a meal on your way from our current neighborhood to the University, you can find some nice independent restaurants in Austin's Hyde Park Neighborhood. Last night we were headed to UT to see a multi-media English language version of "The Magic Flute." We stopped at ASTI, a classy little Italian place for an early dinner. The decor emphasizes circles including these on the windows identifying what's available inside. The restaurant is owned by the same people who own FINO which is also on the way to the University from our house.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tito's Vodka

We were in the bar at Taverna on 2nd Street last week and some folks from Tito's Vodka were there. I got a free gimlet (served up in a martini glass as shown here) and they gave us hats and T-Shirts, too. You see Tito's poured all over town. It's locally distilled. That seems to be a thing now. Think Globally, Drink Locally.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Do You Have Any Tattoos?

Personally my skin adornments are restricted to liver spots, those white spots from old age and the occasional insect bite. But body ink is popular in Austin. You can see lots of art on the bodies at music events and they are de rigueur for workers at Whole Foods, Amy's, Thundercloud Subs and similar places. Tattoo places often have good neon and window art. This is the spot near the Continental Club on South Congress.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Incomparable Mrs. K

Some people are actors. Some people live their lives as if all the world were a stage. Some people are characters or icons. In Austin, there are many people who fit one or two of those categories. Karen Kuykendall is all that and more. Sunday was a busy day for us. Besides the Ballet Bash downtown and a private party, we joined Karen and several hundred of her friends and family to kick off fund-raising to name a stage at the planned Zach Scott theater. Karen is a dear friend and in spite of being in a battle with health problems she continues to have perfect timing. A few syllables from her gravelly voice are all that's required to attract your attention so that she can deliver a perfectly-timed zinger or burst into a little Cole Porter number. Here she does a Carol Channing-like mug for my camera while posing with FFP. The event was at Green Pastures, which is a restaurant and event space but was Karen's childhood home. Two of the many, many roles Karen shouldered in Austin theater were Andy Warhol and Ann Richards. Think about that!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Barbara Watches Your Baggage

The passenger terminal at ABIA (Austin Bergstrom International Airport) is named for one of Texas' statespersons, Barbara Jordan. She was from Houston and represented that area in the Texas Senate and in the U.S. House of Representatives. She gave a famous, moving keynote speech at the 1976 Democratic Convention. I have labeled this entry with my 'iconic Austinites' label because Barbara moved here after retiring from politics due to illness. She taught at the LBJ school of affairs and became increasingly hobbled by illness. (During the time we saw her around Austin I never knew what her devastating illness was, but my WEB research indicates she suffered from MS and Leukemia.) I really believe that if she had not become ill, she would have made the U.S. grapple with our discrimination against women and blacks in a profound way. I didn't agree with all her political stands but I thought Barbara as President was a wonderful dream because she was honest, driven and knew how to move people. Fact is, she would have broken a third barrier, too. She was a Lesbian. In acknowledging what day it is, I thought that there could be no better photo than a great woman's statue at an airport.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Gift to Austin...Butler Dance Education Center

Instead of just cutting a ribbon, Ballet Austin wrapped the front of the new Butler Dance Education Center like a package. Mayor Will Wynn is speaking before the gift is unwrapped and the block party begins. Listening are Dr. Ernest and Sarah Butler, who made the major donations for the building, Cookie Ruiz, executive director of the Ballet company and Stephen Mills, artistic director. The community then flowed in to see all the opportunities ballet affords from buying tickets to see the professional company in the Paramount and, in the spring, the Long Center to taking a dance, yoga or Pilates class themselves or enrolling their children.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Writing and reading

I'm on the board of a unique group in Austin-- Badgerdog Literary Publishing. We host ten-week after-school creative writing programs and the kids then publish their creations in beautifully-designed journals called Youth Voices in Ink. Badgerdog puts out three of these a year. Yesterday, sixteen of the youngsters got to read their works in a public setting at a large downtown church. Afterwards, they had an autograph session and proud parents and audience members had their copies of the journal signed by the authors.

I feel good about having a part in helping kids find ways to dig into their creative souls and discover their talent. Badgerdog also publishes American Short Fiction, an award-winning literary journal.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Game Day

I think it's pretty safe to say that a lot of people kick off a University of Texas Game Day with some Mexican breakfast or lunch. Sure some are grilling sausage and drinking beer in parking lots, but breakfast tacos and enchiladas are popular fortifications, too. We won't be going to the game, but one South Austin choice for the Tex-Mex delights is El Sol Y La Luna on South Congress. It shares a structure with the Austin Motel. I don't know how the businesses are related. I can't remember the last time I ate here but it was pretty good, I think. Opportunities for this cuisine abound in Austin. I'll be dodging the influx of game day people while I try to have a meal out with some relatives. We'll probably try to have dinner at Threadgill's northern location while the game is in progress.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dancin' for Dance

Last night was Ballet Austin's annual fund-raising Fête. The theme was White Nights (Russia) for the birthplace of ballet. The party was the first event of several to celebrate the grand opening of the building to house the company, the Ballet Austin Academy and the administration. The party flowed from the Armstrong-Connelly Studio (cocktails, hors d'oeuvre, purchase of eggs that started as part of the decor and had slips of paper inside announcing prizes) to the AustinVentures StudioTheater (dinner and announcements and live auction) and back to Armstrong-Connelly for coffee and dessert and on to the Joe T. and Teresa Lozano Long Grand Foyer for more dessert and dancing to a DJ. You could climb the stairs and sit in the (Your Name Here, Naming Opportunities still remain) Board Room and watch the dancing through the glass wall while enjoying coffee or a nightcap. You could have your fortune read there.

Forrest stood on the stairs and took this picture of the dancing. Dancing at a Ballet Austin event is a trip as many of the professional company members will take the floor! The swirls in the floor announce donors but they also make a nice sweep in this picture of dancers. And, yes, we danced. I hope there are no pictures!

The Grand Opening continues Sunday and you can be a part of that one without a tuxedo or an expensive ticket. See here for the festivities.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Actually the Weather is Pleasant (Well, Somewhat)

The shop Blackmail on South Congress had this window dressing on Monday. Usually around the first of September the weather remains unremittingly hot and sunny here. Not so much this year, though. It's all the rain I guess. Sure it's humid but as I type this it is almost eight o'clock and not 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) yet. OK, it's 79. We have a black tie event tonight, though. Makes me almost start sweating even before I go out to play tennis even though I'm sitting in my cool office.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Another SoCo Guitar

It's been a few days since I showed you one of these guitars. This is one of the ones on South Congress, near the Austin Motel and El Sol y La Luna.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Local Coffee at Jo's

Yesterday a friend and I arranged to meet at a place on South Congress (Botticelli's) so she could buy me a (belated) birthday lunch. I thought the place might be closed on Mondays or holidays or both. But we figured we'd find a place after we met up in any case. I got there early. Some triathlon that involved Town (Lady Bird) Lake was finishing up. The street was awash in people (some with bikes, backpacks and numbers written on their arms with Sharpies). The selected spot was closed so I made a survey of places that were open, snapping pictures. Jo's was open along with Enoteca, South Congress Cafe, El Sol y La Luna, Doc's, Zen, Amy's (eat ice cream only). Lastly Texas French Bread, a bakery and coffee shop was open. Jo's offers limited lunch choices and some of the other places (Enoteca, SoCo Cafe) had long waits. We are savvy though and popped into Texas French Bread where excellent soup and fresh sandwiches on bakery bread was on offer and there was no line and empty tables.

Cool thing is that I think that Zen is a chain, but these other places are local. There are four more restaurants that weren't open at the moment (evening only or Mondays or whatever). All local. Texas French Bread and Jo's are only chains in the sense that their local owners have more than one location. I love supporting local eateries. And my half pimento cheese sandwich (which was gigantic) and chicken tortilla soup was great.

Monday, September 3, 2007

House in the Neighborhood

Real estate prices have gone up in Austin and especially our neighborhood in the three decades I've been here. Although nothing like the spike on the coasts and other places. The median price in our metropolitan area is about a fourth of that of, say, San Jose. The median price in the neighborhood may be closer to half of San Jose. Still, someone has taken the time for a traditional old-fashioned addition. Probably didn't even get a permit. Nice to see. FFP peeked toward the backyard of another house in the neighborhood where he used to play in a tree house. Even the tree is gone, he thinks. Must be strange to be walking where you grew up. We were wandering the neighborhood on foot yesterday morning before the rain going for a coffee and looking at what was going on.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Great Week For Ballet Austin

Here you see Ballet Austin's Butler Dance Education Center with the new banners and the condos where LB and FFP will live one day rising behind it. It is a great week for Ballet Austin. Today the local daily ran an article about our new downtown home. Next Sunday the community is invited for the grand opening. And Thursday night the new building will actually be the site of the annual black-tie fund-raising fête.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Pay Attention to Instructions

I made a little collage for you today. Some of the signs I see on my daily rounds. I think FFP snapped the irrigation warning. (I've yet to understand what I should do about this. It is on the grass at the water treatment plant near our club.) I've never quite understood why you have to tell left turners to yield, but you see that sign at traffic lights where there is both an arrow (for protected turns) and a green light where you can proceed with caution. Our stop lights are hung in the middle of the intersection most of the time. I get confused in countries where the light is on the corner and you can go too far and not see it. The plethora of signs at the bottom are on our street, trying to deter you from running over a median, warn trucks off the smaller road to the right and watch for water over the nearby bridge. (I have never seen water on the bridge by the way but the city recently put these up wherever they didn't have a water level warning system on the waterway.) Finally, we have an unusual sign that identifies one lane of our street as for bikes and parked cars, but no driving.

Check out other sites participating in the 'street lights and signs' theme day:

Seattle (WA), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Singapore, Singapore - Boston (MA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Kajang (Selangor), Malaysia - Mainz, Germany - Evry, France - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Nottingham, UK - Toulouse, France - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Manila, Philippines - Mumbai, India - Montpellier, France - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - Moscow, Russia - Paris, France - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Austin (TX), USA - Lyon, France - Stockholm, Sweden - Hyde, UK - Hong Kong, China - Joplin (MO), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Chandler (AZ), USA - St. Louis (MO), USA - Arlington (VA), USA - Anderson (SC), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Villigen, Switzerland - Sydney, Australia - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - San Diego (CA), USA - Bandung (West Java), Indonesia - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Nelson, New Zealand - Quincy (MA), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Bend (OR), USA - Wellington, New Zealand - New Orleans (LA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Nashville (TN), USA - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - Detroit (MI), USA - Saigon, Vietnam - Selma (AL), USA - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Miami (FL), USA - Arradon, France - Sheki, Azerbaijan - New York City (NY), USA - Inverness (IL), usa - North Bay (ON), Canada - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Tenerife, Spain - Auckland, New Zealand - Forks (WA), USA - Rotterdam, Netherlands - Chateaubriant, France - Madison (WI), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Orlando (FL), USA - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Ajaccio, France - Baltimore (MD), USA - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Budapest, Hungary - Lyon, France - Saarbrücken, Germany - Adelaide (SA), Australia - Le Guilvinec, France - River Falls (WI), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Naples (FL), USA - London, UK - La Antigua, Guatemala - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - Paris, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Trujillo, Peru - Haninge, Sweden - Prague, Czech Republic - Oslo, Norway - Grenoble, France - Shanghai, China - Toronto (ON), Canada - Durban, South Africa - Zurich, Switzerland - Cape Town, South Africa - Singapore, Singapore - Torino, Italy - Flagstaff (AZ), USA