Friday, November 30, 2007

City Hall, Second Street

The back of City Hall is on Second Street. (There is a plaza on Cesar Chavez which used to be First Street which you saw a bit of here when the giant guitars were around.) The distinctive thing in the back is a point thrusting across Second Street. Austin Java occupies the space below the gleaming windows. That makes two local coffee spots for our new neighborhood, with Jo's seen here. As we grow old downtown we will have free entertainment, too: watching the City Council in Action!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Reaching the Top

Our future home is stretching to its final height in the background (our unit is way below that, however) and the AMLI apartments in the foreground with their finish of sort of a metallic tile catch the setting sun in this picture taken Tuesday when we walked from The Four Seasons to the Second Street District. One day, the W Hotel and Residences will probably interfere with this angle.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gingerbread Village

The Christmas decorations were officially launched at the Four Seasons Hotel yesterday and the center of attraction was a village of edible houses. Some gingerbread was used, of course, but all manner of other edible ingredients as well. Created by the pastry staff and sold for charity the little village will grace the Four Seasons lobby (along with a tree and other decorations) for the season.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Shop Local Alien Shops

I assume this place (which is in this center) is a local business. They sell electric scooters and bikes. Presumably not to people from other countries (or worlds). Although the green thing in the window is a blow-up 'little green man.' FFP and I go on two legs or in efficient (not hybrid yet) Honda cars but if you need an a two-wheeler that doesn't use fossil fuel but the hills of Austin are getting you down, might try these folks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Acoustic Instrument

This is a photo I shot of the balconies and ceiling of the Dell Hall in the new Long Center for the Performing Arts. In this state-of-the-art hall everything is designed as a part of the sound equation including the construction of the seats. Excitement is really building in the community about the center.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Unexpected Oranges

We don't have oranges in Austin. It gets too cold in the winter for citrus trees, really. But this tree, tucked between a tennis court wind screen (which protects it from the north wind) and a stone wall produces a scad of oranges to be pecked at by wildlife (perhaps the peacocks like them?) and tossed about by vandals.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Food Made For Walking

Cipollina is one of those protean little places that serves multiple purposes. Across from the famous fine dining restaurant, Jeffrey's, and, in fact, affiliated with them, it serves a walking neighborhood crowd for coffee or wine and beer and snacks, provides 'take home and heat' stuff to those same walkers or shoppers at Fresh Plus grocery next door and occasionally hosts some live music. The food has an Italian spin, thus the name and clever sign. (I took this long ago. It's rainy and cold today so I'm probably not going to be out snapping pics for this journal!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Holiday Dessert

We had two holiday meals yesterday. One was at our club where FFP and I hosted all our parents and celebrated his dad's upcoming 97th birthday. I knew I'd be eating another meal in the evening so I put the brakes on dessert and had this cute turkey-shaped iced cookie and a cup of coffee (black). Must admit that, later at a friend's house, I succumbed to apple pie. But no ice cream!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Neighbors (Far) to the North

This photo was taken from an upstairs hallway in the Four Seasons Hotel, looking back at the city. A puff of wind caught the Canadian flag in the foreground and made it dominate the U.S. and Texas flags. The hotel is managed by a Canadian company, I explain to folks who notice the flag. Mexico is a much closer neighbor to Austin, of course. It's a little further to Mexico than to Dallas... about 240 miles (approximately 390 kilometers). The fastest way to get out of the state of Texas from Austin is probably to go to Mexico! Headed to Canada from here? Well over 1200 miles I'd say (around 2000 kilometers at least).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Get Your Orange On

All over the world, people support their sporting heroes by wearing the 'colors' and logos of the team. The University of Texas colors are burnt orange and white. This photo, from the UT Women's basketball game the other day, shows what 'burnt orange' is, more or less. There is some difference of opinion on the exact shade. Occasionally you'll even see a "Tennessee orange." UT's mascot is the Texas Longhorn (see basketball floor). I'm not a UT alum and I'm not really fond of the burnt orange color per se. I support the teams, though, as they are an integral part of the economy of Austin. FFP, on the other hand, marched with the Longhorn Band long ago. Friday the football team takes on Texas A&M in a rivalry that is older than I am. The game is in College Station this year, some miles to the east where A&M is located, but you will see folks wearing their 'colors' in town anyway as they go to sports bars and homes to watch the game.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

East Side Competition

When we were on the East Austin Studio Tour the other day I noticed this place across from Joe's Bakery getting a bold announcement painted. The guy is decorating La Monita's Taqueria on Seventh. We have taco joints a lot closer to us and there is a Mexican bakery in my neighborhood that one can easily walk to. And there is still a lot of competition for taco shops and pan dulce purveyors among the new condos and evidence of yuppie invasion on the east side. And, Austin being Austin, there is a Taco Shack in the stately Frost Bank Tower downtown!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stately Home...and Trees

There is an area north of The University of Texas where homes were built by local architects and craftsmen, sometimes for themselves and, often, for professors. Most people refer to the area as Harris Park, I believe. We took a Heritage Society tour of the exteriors of some of the houses on 32nd Street yesterday. This shot doesn't show the Monterey-style Spanish Colonial Revival house to best effect. Rather I shot it to enjoy the beautiful live oak on the property. Click here to enjoy the larger image.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Art in the East

This is Jennifer Balkan with her painting and some "models" (the armless dolls shown). East of IH35, there is a thriving art community spread among taquerias, bodegas, gentrified single- and multi-family housing and businesses and aging homes with their original residents still in them. We drove around for a little bit yesterday during the first day of E.A.S.T. (East Austin Studio Tour). There were over a 100 locations of warehouses and old houses where artists worked and were showing their wares. We only made it to a couple (along with a stop at Joe's Bakery), but we made our first stop Dog House Studios which is an old house on Willow with the painters Jennifer Balkan, Karen Maness and Pablo Taboada sharing the digs. We were familiar with and loved the two ladies when they were showing and working elsewhere.

E.A.S.T. continues today, Sunday the 18th, (10-5).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Long Center Facade

The privately-funded Long Center for the Performing Arts is being built with the 'reuse, recycle' mantra. Tiles in shades of green were captured from the old Palmer Center and can be seen above these windows. The windows, while new, reflect the aesthetic of that material. The windows also reflect, in the word's other sense, our skyline as seen here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friends With Books

When FFP and I move downtown, we are going to have lots of bookshelves and while we are downsizing the collection of books, I plan a little section for 'books friends wrote.' Last night we went to a signing for a book by flag collector and relatively new Austinite Pete Keim (shown) and his son Kevin Keim, who is Director of the Charles Moore House here. Pete has an amazing collection of U.S. Flags and the pair collaborated with Jacob Termansen, a design and architecture photographer from Denmark, to produce a beautiful book, A Grand Old Flag.

Shown getting a book signed is Mildred Witte, a commissioner with the Texas Commission on the Arts. The event was on the patio of the hip Hotel San Jose on South Congress.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No...'s Bar-B-Q sauce! Last Sunday we went to the University of Texas Women's Basketball game at Erwin Center. The center has mezzanine seating and so the Rudy's Bar-B-Q people use the height to fly a giant bottle o' sauce balloon around above the crowd. Occasionally it releases coupons which flutter down to patrons. Rudy's is a place that started in a little town in Texas and is now a 'chain' but mostly limited to Texas (although the brand has leaked into Oklahoma and New Mexico). When I'm at my dad's, their 183 location is where we get piles of slow-cooked meat and appropriate sides for visitors.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


The folks who own the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas like to do film decoration and use recycled stuff they find. Here, in the lobby of the south location at this center, they used part of an old carnival ride to hang in front of the "When Aliens Remember the Alamo" mural. Inside the theaters you see light sconces made from old film reels. I haven't seen the new Alamo Ritz downtown but I hope to soon. It should be an iconic Austin location before you know it. It is hard for the Austin Daily Photo team to get around to all the iconic locations with our cameras. But we try!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Close to Completion

The 360 condos have risen almost to full height. It is seen here at night with the ring of the Long Center (getting close to completion itself) curving above me. We got a construction tour of the Long Center yesterday. We don't miss a hard hat tour if we are invited. In fact, we didn't even have to don them for this tour. There are seats in the Dell Hall. Not all are installed but we were able to sit in some. The 360 will top very soon and a tree will appear on the spire on the south end of the top, as I understand it. The big news around yesterday was that the Monarch (to the left in this picture, click pic for better look) is going to abandon trying to sell the condos and instead go back to being an apartment building. There are exciting things going on in downtown Austin, but some unknowns, too. One condo project we know of has been abandoned. But the 18-story building to the right of this picture is also an apartment building about to come online.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Austin Art

Yesterday we were invited to a lovely home for an art exhibit and party. The home, perched in the hills off The High Road, had a Zen feel. Our friend Katy Nail's paintings had been hung all over the house making for a delightful show of house and art. She appears here in the bathroom with a painting she calls "Beyond Marfa." She is wearing some awesome boots and a poncho from Guatemala embroidered with many birds. The party was packed with interesting people including Katy's mother, Frances Nail, an author; and her daughter, Carrie Rodriguez, a singer. We also talked to Johnny Guffey, the infamous and famous longtime waiter at Jeffrey's, and the McAfees, the owners of Barr Mansion.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Friday Night Lights

Friday night FFP and I partook of an old tradition in the U.S.A: we went to a high school football game. Both of us were at every game forty-odd years ago when we were in high school because we played in the marching bands of our respective schools. We went to Round Rock on Friday. Years ago FFP had a big client and hired some employees for his little ad agency. One of them, a talented but untamed twenty-something, became like a son to us. We worried over his financial fiascoes, bought him a suit so we could send him to a trade show, bought health insurance for him. FFP was best man in his wedding when he married a wonderful girl. He settled down to become a successful man with a lovely family. Unbelievably, his son is a Senior in High School. This was his last game as a Stony Point Tiger. Since he's as close to a grandson as we are likely to get, we were happy to see him handsomely navigating the bench warmer's role in his last regular game. (Hey, he's a great student!)

The whole experience of the high school game was there: elaborate entrances of the teams to the field, cheerleaders, bands, flag bearers, dance teams. And, of course, football. It was all more elaborate than in our day, actually. This picture was taken after the victory of 'our' team.

Disclaimer: This picture was taken in Round Rock. But most Austinites consider Round Rock a suburb and most denizens of Round Rock would say they live in Austin. From the edge of Austin to the heart of Round Rock, is a continuous area of businesses and homes. The growth there has been phenomenal due to a company called Dell. And to make the story complete: the client that made FFP hire some employees when they experienced enormous growth? Yes, Michael Dell.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

We'll Be Having Tuna

I hope we pop downtown a little early to get some tuna seared rare and a glass of wine at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse before the UT game is over. Then we will walk over the stars in the sidewalk in honor of Joe and Jaston and see the latest fun play about the denizens of the fictional third smallest town in Texas: Tuna.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Party, Party, Party

This was part of the decoration for a party at Ampersand Agency, a creative firm run by some friends of ours. The theme was Creativity, Strategy, Insight. Or...CSI. They had servers in lab coats and safety goggles and decoration like this. Crime scene tape cordoned things off and CSI badges were issued in the lobby. Drinks were being served (various things with -tini on the end) that looked not unlike the stuff in these beakers or something that needed to be examined in the crime lab. I think lava lamps figure in their whole creative thing, too. Observe their WEB page. We stopped by for a brief visit with our friends and other people we knew. Breif because we had to party, party, party. Literally. We wanted to stop by an artist's reception at the offices of two more friends (Ozmun PR and Andrews Urban) and we had a last minute invitation to get 'free' tickets to a benefit for American Youth Works. (The tickets were donated back by someone who bought a table, but, of course, we made a donation to thank our friends who organized the thing so hence the quotes around free!) This last party had Booker T. and the MGs and the place rocked out. AYW was Clifford Antone's charity so his memory was liberally evoked. As FFP and I like to say, all the usual suspects from the young and hip segment of Austin Society were there. After food and a high dollar live auction was conducted, cheaper tickets were sold for the performance itself which brought out Austin's stalwart rock fans.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Top of the World

Well, the top of Austin anyway. The local developer on the 360 condo tower (Taylor Andrews, center) invited some people from Ballet Austin (like board member Forrest Preece, right) to go on a hardhat tour of the 360 building. (Ballet Austin is the 360's close neighbor with their Butler Dance Education Center.) In this picture we are standing on the 44rd floor, looking east. The construction just over Taylor's head with the white crane is the Monarch. The red crane to my left (you may have to click on the picture to enlarge) is where the Spring condo is under construction. The red thing to FFP's right? Somebody's lunch. The project has around 400 construction workers working on it at the moment. This is the last floor although it doesn't have windows or a roof at the moment. The spire will soar a little higher and then you Austinites will see the traditional 'topped out' tree in time for the holiday! I'm running late today and don't have time for links but you can find more on the 360 and Ballet by using a search on this blog or the labels.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Treats at the Blue Star

A week ago Sunday, I think it was, we went to Blue Star Cafeteria. Which isn't really a cafeteria in the sense of trays and a line. They wait on you at tables for innovative comfort food. I shot this picture of scrumptious desserts in the case with decorative fall gourds on the way out.

We've run pictures of the front of this place which is in our current neighborhood (walking distance). And we ran a picture of the owner at a party he was catering.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Scenic Drive

Most of us don't use Mt. Bonnell Road as a thoroughfare but even when we do drive it and our jaws drop as Lake Austin peeks out and greets us on the twists and turns and ups and downs, we can't snap a picture because it is a perilous drive. On Sunday I went on a walk with my friend and her standard poodle. Afoot I snapped the view from the road at the intersection of Mt. Bonnell Drive and Mt. Bonnell Road as if you were driving toward 2222. This is a scenic drive for visitors even if you don't climb the hundred or so steps to the park. With this drive and going down the hill toward Capital of Texas Highway your guests should have enough scenery to work up an appetite for barbecue at County Line.

I was going to post this here today but decided to put it in my personal blog. But since we introduced Karen Kuykendall here I wanted to note her passing in ADP.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Just a line of girls looking down with link arms until you notice...their boots are off the ground! We did enjoy seeing the Kilgore Rangerettes the other night. I believe the blonde watching attentively from that primo seat is Cookie Ruiz, Exec. Director of Ballet Austin. Hopefully, she won't be asking for a number like this to be added to "The Nutcracker."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Taking A Ride

At the party the other night, folks bought tickets for charity to ride a mechanical bull. This guy tumbled into the padded pit seconds later. The operator can really make the thing buck.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Nice Eyes

We attended a very interesting party last night. (The Art House Awards.) There were many fun things about it. The dress code was: "Texas Flash, Texas Trash." We showed up in jeans, tuxedo coats, tuxedo shirts and bolo ties. It was held at Stubb's Bar-B-Q which Austinites know is really more than cold beer and slow-cooked meat. It is a huge outdoor amphitheater, too. With a beer in my hand I made my way down to the the small indoor stage area and was watching a dance troupe that performs all their numbers to Dolly Parton songs. I was looking around to see how others had interpreted the dress code. The answer was every way imaginable. Then I noticed this fellow watching the dancing. Everyone else seemed to know him so I asked to take his picture and he said he was Chris Marsh. Well, of course, Chris runs the Mean-Eyed Cat. I've been intending to get a picture of this iconic bar which is being overrun with apartments and upscale shops. It was the subject of a zoning fight in June, but won in a victory for keeping Austin weird for sure. Chris looks comfortable in his jeans and vintage cowboy shirt, untucked, with an "I've made it my own" straw hat which still flies around here in November because the night was balmy. And what nice gentle eyes this iconic Austinite has.

Note: The name Mean-Eyed Cat is from a Johnny Cash song. And we will give you a picture of the bar someday.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Paddle Wheel

FFP and I went on a boat on Lake Austin the other night with some wine-loving buddies. We sipped a variety of good juice while eating some fajitas and coconut shrimp on a stick catered by Hula Hut. The boat is the paddle wheeler The Commodore (which FFP showed you docked at our club). The picture is, of course, a detail of the Paddle Wheel. We actually boarded at the public dock near Hula Hut and the Tom Miller Dam (which is the dam that creates Lake Austin).

Thursday, November 1, 2007


This building carries the name of Chase Bank and is a bit west of Congress in the downtown skyline at 221 W. Sixth. A locally famous private club occupies the top floor. It is called The Headliners Club and might have had something to do with journalists at some point. No, I'm not a member. Yes, I've been there a few times.

Today, is theme day. And the theme is 'the color blue'. Or in parts of the world where English is spoken via UK, 'the colour blue'. This building against an intensely blue Fall sky in Austin fits the bill. Good thing there are white and black accents to break up the blue.

Other sites allegedly participating in theme day:
Boston (MA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Portland (OR), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Selma (AL), USA - Arradon, France - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Stockholm, Sweden - Singapore, Singapore - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Toulouse, France - The Hague, Netherlands - Moscow, Russia - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Stayton (OR), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Detroit (MI), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - Bandung (West Java), Indonesia - Greenville (SC), USA - Hyde, UK - Radonvilliers, France - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Nashville (TN), USA - Manila, Philippines - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Saarbrücken, Germany - New Orleans (LA), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Forks (WA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Barton (VT), USA - St. Louis (MO), USA - Joplin (MO), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Quincy (MA), USA - Setúbal, Portugal - Inverness (IL), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - Toruń, Poland - North Bay (ON), Canada - Le Guilvinec, France - Chateaubriant, France - London, England - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Naples (FL), USA - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Sydney, Australia - Austin (TX), USA - Mumbai, India - Boston (MA), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Paderborn, Germany - Montréal (QC), Canada - Jackson (MS), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Orlando (FL), USA - Grenoble, France - Cheltenham, UK - Forks (WA), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Weston (FL), USA - London, UK - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Belgrade, Serbia - Paris, France - Shanghai, China - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Montpellier, France - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Auckland, New Zealand - Evry, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Oslo, Norway - Minneapolis (MN), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Trujillo, Peru - Trujillo, Peru - Melbourne (VIC), Australia - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Durban, South Africa - Brussels, Belgium - Anderson (SC), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Wellington, New Zealand - Prague, Czech Republic - Saigon, Vietnam - Ystad, Sweden - Miami (FL), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Hong Kong, China - Melbourne, Australia - Baziège, France - Greensboro (NC), USA - Sharon (CT), USA - Kajang (Selangor), Malaysia