Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Day of the Dead

We made a special stop last night on our walk around the neighborhood to have a drink at Fonda San Miguel, the venerable North Central Austin Interior Mexican restaurant, so we could take a picture of the Day of the Dead altar for our Halloween entry. Click on the picture to enlarge and see all the tributes. I figure those are photos of relatives of employees and there are Tequila bottles and loaves of bread and other things to show the departed a good time. Here's hoping your day of 'skulduggery' (little pun) is fun. I know that at one time, Halloween and Day of the Dead and such were regional affairs. But I think there has been a lot of globalization of holidays in the last decade or so. In 1991, I went into the famous toy store, Hamley's, in London and found a display of Halloween stuff. A small girl picked up a wind-up skull (the jaw chattered) and held it up to her mom and said, "Look, Mum, Hamlet!" Something tells me today's English child would be more schooled in pumpkins, skulls and bats even if she did have a better knowledge of Shakespeare than the average American kid.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Capitol View

There is much talk about retaining views of the Capitol Building. From just south of the Congress Avenue Bridge, it appears to be struggling to be seen. Driving up Congress from the South remains one of the most dramatic ways to encounter the Capitol.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Local Retail

If you want to fight back against the big chains, you really need look no further than South Austin. This center on South Lamar is 'anchored' by a guitar store with a grand sign. You can shop for vintage clothes and 'stuff' and the closest thing to a chain is the Salvation Army. The drugstore has a '60's time warp decor and looks like a friendly place. The sub shop is Thundercloud and while this a chain (there are numerous ones) it is our Austin chain. The orange building has a Mexican restaurant in it. There are scores of one off or local 'chain' Mexican restaurants on South Lamar, South First, South Congress. Think globally (buy an electric scooter at Alien!) but shop locally. The movie house, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is another local phenomena that has expanded outside Austin. Every seat has a counter in front of it and waiters will bring you a beer and pizza or other food and drink.

By the way, we were at the center on Saturday to see a premiere of a Mockumentary short by Paul Michael Bloodgood (a principal dancer at Ballet Austin) called Ballet Divas Self-Proclaimed. It was hilarious and should amuse anyone who has ever seen the super chestnut of Ballet, "The Nutcracker."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Bat

Have I mentioned the bats? They live under the Congress Avenue Bridge in season. This giant tribute to them (which moves around with the breeze) is at South Congress and Barton Springs. The mannequins are inside a cool shop called Your Living Room.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Blast From the Past

I was trying to clean out some of the stuff in our house and found this picture. FFP says it was taken at Fifth and Brazos. The year was 1963 according to the date on the photo. Please observe the price of gas. Regular: 24.9 cents a gallon. Super: 26.9 cents. Pre-dates 'unleaded.' Not to mention self service probably and definitely 'pay the pump.' So someone probably cleaned your windshield and checked the tires and under the hood after you spent a few bucks on a fill-up. Brazos street is one-way today and was then as well. The building (a bank building) is still there, but is allegedly slated for demolition and the erection of an office building taller than the Frost Bank building.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Koi pond

Beautiful lily pads and koi surrounded that belvedere you got a peek in the other entry. Pond maintenance like this is difficult, I'm here to tell you. And this one was beautiful.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Great Sandwiches

I snapped this on Sunday. It looks like a softball team might have been celebrating inside the NeWorlDeli & Cafe. This is my favorite place to get a Reuben. You can get a "smaller" one that you only need one person to share with and you can get turkey or turkey pastrami instead of corned beef. As usual I looked for a place online to direct you to...and I found a link on their page where you can watch the sandwich made. This place is on the Guadalupe edge of Hyde Park and is part of that wonderful tradition of quirky non-chain places we hope is kept alive for a long time. They also have wonderful soups and they have started staying open for dinner and featuring some entrées that sound like good comfort food.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Barbecue Time

Whether you say barbeque, barbecue or BBQ, you have choices for slow-cooked meat in Austin. Our version means beef brisket, sausage, ribs, maybe chicken with sides of cole slaw, beans, potato salad and white bread. (Although the County Line offers wheat and their white is not some commercial product.) Onions, pickles, jalapeños are worthy condiments. Tangy sauces may be served. This is the sign for 'County Line on the Lake' near 360 (Cap. of Texas) and RM2222. There is another (original) County Line off Bee Cave road (called 'County Line on the Hill' by those in the know I believe). This is a great stop for sampling some barbecue in when in our area.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pump You Up!

Forget Gold's or the country club. If you really want to pump up, go over to Guadalupe to Hyde Park Gym where this muscular arm demonstrates perfect form and inside, I suspect, there are no girly pilates machines, just benches and lots of free weights. Hmmm...just discovered from the WEB site that they did some Friday Night Lights shooting there last year.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Peek Behind Walls

When one drives around the city, one admires properties that are more or less visible from the street. This belvedere, however, is hidden even from the house it belongs to (which itself is quite hidden) and requires that you take a stroll to see it and the surrounding koi and lily pad filled pond. We were 'invited' to this house last night. (In other words, we bought a ticket to a party to raise money for a cause.) The grounds and house were lovely and there had been some changes since last we visited. I told Forrest that all I could think of was: I'm glad I'm not the steward of all this. Of course, they have help and probably even a manager to supervise the help. Nevertheless, the owners are ultimately in charge of a myriad of tough decisions and worries and instructions to the staff. The belvedere, by the way, is completely furnished and outfitted like a living room and there is a catering kitchen tucked away out of sight on a level below. The owners use 'belvedere' to describe the structure (as did the former owners and maybe the original builders if they weren't the same people).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lake Austin and Pennybacker Bridge

I climbed up the hundred or so stone steps to the top of Mt. Bonnell and then down the rock path to snap pictures yesterday. The day was a bit hazy but you can see the very full lake and the Pennybacker Bridge which conveys Capital of Texas Highway (aka Loop 360) across the lake. Austin sits on the geological fault (not active) that defines the Texas Hill Country from the Texas Coastal Plain. Hence we have hills on the west side of town and different soil, flatter land and taller trees on the east side. A lot of people think of Texas and think of desert high plains from cowboy movies. We do have that out west (pretty far from here actually) but we have a startling amount of other geography from mountains to swamps and, of course, a long coastline in the Gulf of Mexico. I like Austin's geography, though. The hills are fine and dramatic with their scrub vegetation and the live oaks and other plants that begin right in town are fine, too. As you may remember from prior geography lessons, Lake Austin is a man made lake formed by a dam on the Colorado River (which we sometimes call the Little Colorado to distinguish it from the from the river draining the Western slopes of the Rocky Mountains). Those homes hugging the shoreline with boating access to the lake are very expensive these days.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Austin People

The very hip-looking guy who is second from left in the collage is Stephen Moser, the fashion editor for the local alternative weekly, The Austin Chronicle which is famous for hosting the SXSW festival. The handsome guy in black is the host of Stephen's 50th birthday, Cliff Redd, Executive director of the Long Center for the Performing Arts. Not unlike other Austin events the party drew a wide array of fashion from Damon Holditch's (of Marquee Event Group) Western regalia to Kate Hersch's (shown with husband Robert) lively headdress. She is holding the one-of-kind pillows she makes that were part of Stephen's birthday take as was the hard-to-get wine Damon is displaying. Austin fashion? Yes, all of it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

State Architecture

Near the warehouse district is a state office building (The Hobby Building). There is this strange fountain there. I can't decide if it is pleasant or looks like Soviet architecture. While it vaguely reminds me of some soulless public areas in apartment sprawls that I saw in Russia and East Berlin, if it were there the pond would be empty and the concrete cracked. Plus the relentless geometry ends up working somehow here. And it is well-maintained with allegedly free market tax dollars.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's For Kids

We don't have kids. So I normally don't pay much attention to playgrounds or kid-friendly places except maybe to avoid them. If my nieces come to town with some little ones, my perspective changes.

I have a little ritual for posting on this blog. First I look at the Daily Photo Home page and see what people have been posting. Sometimes I look at one of the sites. Then I pick out a picture and do my entry. Later in the day, I might look at Daily Photo again and locate my site's thumbnail and see some more of the day's harvest of pictures. I'm always struck by mini 'themes' that crop up whether it's birds or markets or people doing similar things. Today, though, I actually chose this picture because this site in Silver Spring, Maryland had a playground picture and I liked this one I had taken a week or so ago.

This was taken at Phil's Ice House where we showed the sign earlier. Obviously the cows are an homage to the Amy's ice cream served (and made in the building behind the playground).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Keeping it Weird-With Your Ride

In Austin, it's not all pickup trucks, gas-guzzling SUVs and sensible ultra low emission and hybrid vehicles. No. Some people opt for scooters, bicycles and art cars. We are even seeing Segways as personal transportation. This scooter (parked downtown on Sixth Street when photographed last week) has a floral design and the all-important "Keep Austin Weird" sticker. I think what most people actually mean by keeping it weird is keeping it independent and individual. Don't know how well we succeed but you can still drink your coffee at locally-own coffee shops, buy your toys from a locally-owned store and eat your meals in a unique one-of-a-kind restaurant.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lots of Beer

The Warehouse District still has old buildings with high dock entrances that look like they were once warehouses. This one houses Ginger Man which is a bar with scores of beer on tap. Looming behind it is one of the first loft buildings built from the ground up, Plaza Lofts. Hopefully not every old warehouse will see the wrecking ball, leaving some low-slung character-filled buildings in the area. A few blocks over, our new high-rise home rises out of what was a vacant lot in my recent memory.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Music Capital?

Austin has some slogan or idea that it is the "Live Music Capital of the World." I'm way too naive a traveler on the planet to dispute it, but we do find a bit more jazz and cabaret in New York. (Not to take away from the Elephant Room or Austin Cabaret Theater.) On East Sixth Street between Congress (where east begins) and IH-35 are many clubs where college-age people drink. There is also this store: Wild About Music. It mostly sells music-themed geegaws and clothing, I think. Not many actual instruments. They used to be on Congress next to the State but moved out to make way for condos that haven't actually gotten built for some reason.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fancy Barbeque Table Setting

Lambert's downtown was our lunch spot on Friday and while we didn't have the fancy barbecue (rather I had fish soup and a salad of fried green tomatoes topped with crab meat) we tasted some of their house sauces on a bit of bread.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Historic Temptation

We have shown the historic Driskill Hotel from a couple of angles. Yesterday we ate a late breakfast in their 1886 Restaurant between sessions of panel discussions at The Austin Film Festival. This is the glass window tempting you to come in for cake or coffee or something.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Under Construction Reflection

As frequent readers know, I have a thing for taking pictures of reflections. I think it adds one more lens to photography. When you take a photo it captures a moment that will never be repeated with light and arrangement of elements. A reflection shot is even more fleeting. And, in this case, the shot is of glass in the under construction Long Center showing a piece of drywall inside and reflecting our future home, the 360, unfinished with a crane looming above it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Austin's New Front Porch

Cliff Redd, the executive director of Long Center, likes to say that the City Terrace at the center is "Austin's New Front Porch." Maybe so. From the look of it I'll be able to see it from my new front porch. The 360 is the tall building with the blue crane to the left here. I have cobbled together several pictures to show you the skyline under the 'ring.' The skyline is stretching west now with 360 and Monarch. Some Spring will loom up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Long Center for the Performing Arts

The long-awaited Long Center (that pun just occurred to me!) for the Performing Arts is going to open in the spring, hosting our ballet, opera and symphony performances in Austin and also other performances including modern dance, avant garde theater and such. The city leased the old Palmer Convention Center (just south of Lady Bird Lake between Riverside and Barton Springs) to the non-profit. (The city built a facility for things like garage sales and gun and knife shows and a parking garage and park.) The Performing Arts center is being built and endowed by private funds. I toured the construction sight the other evening with a group of lady donors. FFP helped host an event for a men's group last night. This picture shows the city lights from inside, looking out at the terrace ring. The facility is very exciting and the major arts companies as well as many smaller groups are eager to be using the venue. You will probably see more pictures of the construction soon and more pictures throughout the life of Austin Daily Photo.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Neighborhood Burgers

There are several opportunities in our current neighborhood for burgers without arches and one of them is brought to us by the Amy's Ice Cream people. Besides burgers and stuff Phil's Ice House has the ice cream and also a playground for the kids. If a trip to this joint makes you feel your cholesterol is soaring, go next door to our neighborhood doctor, Abel Munoz, and get it checked out. When we are downtown, we will be close to a lot of things. But our current neighborhood is full of wonders, too.

Monday, October 8, 2007

More Ink

Weirdness and body art opportunity aren't confined to SoCo or downtown. This tattoo parlor on Burnet Road displays some giant-sized possibilities for skin decoration on its exterior.

As just a little aside...when I put together the ADP entry each day (usually morning) I start by looking at the Daily Photo Page for recent entries from other places and maybe chase a few interesting ones. Today these attracted my eye: a great picture of an alligator butcher from St. Louis and an amazing photo of ordinary people and advertising art from Rome. I often go to other sites around the world on a regular basis. For example, visiting Menton Daily Photo has made the proprietors of this journal vow to visit there one day.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Orange Light

Last Thursday I took a friend of mine down to Trio at the Four Seasons for lunch. They've recently redecorated, reconfigured and redesigned the menu and everything. (They have new dishes that have sort of lopsided bowls that seem to hide your food from your fellow diners.) The place either looks like a paean to UT (lots of Orange) or a sunset or an Asian restaurant or a California restaurant depending on who you ask. The beet salad is not to be missed. Also the iced tea...which comes with iced tea cubes and liquid sugar. It is, of course, wildly more expensive than eating lunch any other place. But we enjoyed ourselves as did FFP and I when we had dinner a few weeks back.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Need some new ink?

When you are downtown and get the urge for some 'new ink' or your flip flops are blown out, you need go no further than Congress Avenue. (These establishments are upstairs on the west side. Note the historic Norwood Tower looming just above them.) Personally I can't imagine getting a tattoo. And we are still taking our shoes to a spot in our own neighborhood. Tattoos are very popular in Austin, by they way, and I try to check out this body art on the folks without staring!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Murals with Meaning

Some murals and such around town at least announce the business that is or was in the location, but others just seem to express the whimsy of someone with a big space to work with. Between 9th and 10th on North Lamar is this one, on the side of Shoal Creek Saloon. Even with the large space the muralist seemed to have trouble having room for the big creatures he wanted to paint.
Shoal Creek Saloon, by the way, is the home for New Orleans style food in that part of town. With a deck over Shoal Creek and lots of TVs scattered around the dining room it makes revelers welcome. They are particularly attuned to Saints and LSU Tiger fans but when we ate there the other day there were Green Bay and Cowboy and car racing and dog agility fans, too, given the programs on the various TVs. I recommend the crawfish salad and the garlic soup.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Train Runs Through It

Train tracks run through downtown Austin not far from where we will live. One day commuter trains will run near by (or so the taxing by Capitol Metro would promise). This is a freight train but I think the occasional Amtrak follows this track, too. We took this picture on Sunday from a south-facing condo on W. 5th.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Up and Up

We were invited to visit a condo nearby our future home (warning be prepared to switch off annoying music if you follow this link) on Sunday and I shot a picture of the 360 at its current height...about five stories from topping out I figure. Compare to the shot in the header banner. Or here.

Last night I went on a hard hat tour of the new Long Center for the Performing Arts. (Wow, is all I can say, it is going to be so cool.) I took Lamar north after that and noticed that Spring has a big red crane. So now the three big buildings (Spring, Monarch, 360) that you can see from the Lamar bridge are respectively red, white and blue. Must get afoot some time and get some pictures of that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Downtown Bookstore

Book People is the largest independent book store in Texas. And it located downtown (Sixth and Lamar) and when we move downtown we will be able to walk there. On Sunday we visited them as we've loved to do for many years. Besides books they stock gifts, "Keep Austin Weird" items and have a great news stand and a coffee shop. They had this display of banned books on offer Sunday. One of the banned books that we were formerly not allowed to read or buy was Ulysses which I happen to be reading now. (Or so I claim...I seem to be mostly reading newspapers these days.) You can click on the picture for more details of the store display and books.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Buried with Your Boots On

The first of the month is 'theme day' for the daily photo family. This month it is cemetery/tombstone. There is a cemetery near our house. Across the street is a place that sells headstones (tombstones) and other decorations for grave sites. (Bronze golfers? Hmm?) However, I shot this tombstone for you. I 'engraved' ADP (Austin Daily Photo) via the magic of computer photo manipulation. In reality, this headstone sits there in the weeds at the memorial shop, unadorned and unsold. But ready for us should we decide to be buried, as they say in old oaters, 'with our boots on.' And hat on top.

These other Daily Photo sites are registered to celebrate this theme day:
St. Louis (MO), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Mainz, Germany - Hyde, UK - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Toulouse, France - Arradon, France - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Joplin (MO), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Seattle (WA), USA - Baziège, France - Baltimore (MD), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - Stockholm, Sweden - Austin (TX), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Anderson (SC), USA - Orlando (FL), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Nashville (TN), USA - Tenerife, Spain - Manila, Philippines - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Jacksonville (FL), USA - River Falls (WI), USA - Chateaubriant, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Inverness (IL), usa - Lubbock (TX), USA - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Moscow, Russia - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Minneapolis (MN), USA - New Orleans (LA), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Toruń, Poland - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - London, England - Paderborn, Germany - The Hague, Netherlands - Selma (AL), USA - Sunderland, UK - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Stavanger, Norway - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Weston (FL), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Forks (WA), USA - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Boston (MA), USA - Sydney, Australia - Wellington, New Zealand - Montpellier, France - Jackson (MS), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Evry, France - Saarbrücken, Germany - New York City (NY), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - North Bay (ON), Canada - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Cypress (TX), USA - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Paris, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Prague, Czech Republic - Zurich, Switzerland - Budapest, Hungary - Paris, France - Saigon, Vietnam - Grenoble, France - Zurich, Switzerland - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Naples (FL), USA - Toronto (ON), Canada