Thursday, January 31, 2008

UT Tower

This is a view of the UT tower from an odd place: the terrace of the President's office. We got a Heritage Society Tour in 2006 and I shot this picture.

I'm racking my brain for tomorrow's theme day: "What do people think of when they think of your city." It's TOO many things, really. And, I'm sort of afraid most people don't think of what I'd like them to think! But mostly it's just that there are too many things: the University, the Capitol, music, the hills and lakes. Ah, well, tomorrow I will pick something that screams Austin to me. Or FFP will. And that will be that. Maybe the UT Tower is what people think of. Some may think of Whitman up there over forty years ago taking potshots at citizens and students like FFP. But I don't think I'll show the tower tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pharmacy and Lunch Counter...Still Operating

FFP and I were at Jeffrey's Monday and I stepped outside to take a picture of Nau's weathered sign. They haven't done much to the sign or building but inside is a neighborhood pharmacy and a lunch counter. I haven't been there in a while. FFP made an important (to his career) business contact at the lunch counter years ago. This is on West Lynn and 12th in the Clarksville/Old West Austin neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Katz's Never Kloses

When we live downtown (which might happen this year), it will be a short walk over to Rio Grande and West Sixth to Katz's Deli and Bar. The taxi cab yellow cars mark the place. There is a club upstairs. (I don't think I've been there since they changed the name to Momo's.) The important thing about Katz's is that you can satisfy your desire for sandwiches piled high with meat or blintzes at any hour. Not that I have the desire for such at a late hour often. Nice to know it's always open. Or, as they say, Never Kloses.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Welcome Visitors

One other thing that is not a bar on East Sixth between Congress and IH35 is the Austin Visitor Center. They took a neat old building and its Grove Pharmacy sign. I don't know what the hours are but there would seem to be a better location for a place where families go to get brochures about museums and IMAX shows and local treasures and such. Who knows, though, maybe the vibe of this stretch of street will change over the years. Stranger things have happened.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Art Gallery and Home For Sale

Andrew Long, with one of his paintings.

When we were at the party last Wednesday, I was anchored against the wall (just staying out of traffic not being a wallflower) and a guy walked up and asked if he could perch his plate on the table by me. I introduced myself and told him I recognized him as the painter who had done a portrait of Miguel, the chef/co-owner/founder of Fonda San Miguel. He was Roi James and we talked about his art and then I heard him telling another person about a show that had its opening last night. FFP came up, we talked some more, exchanged cards. Roi invited us to the opening which was really neat. This home builder, Metrohouse, had a beautiful modern duplex for sale so they filled the two (over 2000 sq. foot) homes with paintings and sculpture and turned them into a giant gallery. Obviously it's a chance to get people to look at the homes. Besides Roi there was another painter, Andrew Long, who is a longtime friend. (I took his picture because I caught him with his work. When we caught up with Roi he was looking at Andrew's paintings!) The third artist was Stephen Dubov and he was showing sculpture made from recycled and broken windshield glass and metal tubing, cables and clamps. It was amazingly beautiful. I didn't know Stephen and didn't catch up with him.

This event was amazing. I love the modern aesthetic of these homes and, empty, they made a great backdrop for the art. A DJ ran some custom music and there was art gallery food and drink.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Brilliant People

Our friend Lance Morgan runs a magazine called Brilliant which is a bible of society, style and luxury for Texans. The magazine celebrated its fifth anniversary at Pangaea, a bottle club that took over the old Alamo Drafthouse (near fourth and Colorado) site with a velvet-roped, safari-themed bar. Because we figured this might be our one and only visit to this bar and because we love Lance and knew he'd invited all the usual suspects, we went. [Disclaimer: Nothing against safari themes, bottle bars (although how many people do you need to spend hundreds or thousands on a bottle of booze?) or any of that. It's just that we tend to do our drinking where the we know the bartender's name and they know what whiskey we prefer and there are good snacks and no percussion.]

It's not a great picture, photo-quality-wise, but Lance and the cake and the lady helping look dashing.

As to the venue: the DJ'ed African music with a live congo player was loud but we did manage conversation. The old Alamo stairs are still there and I couldn't shake the image that it was going to be revealed as a promo for some Alamo silliness. The place is supposed to look like one of those high-quality safari 'tents' where people dine on good food and drink and peek out or drive to see the big five. Not that I've done that. I leaned over and asked my good friend sitting next to me if he had and he said "Yes, in Kenya." Then we moved on to talk about gas wells near Ft. Worth. There were lots of people we knew there and, when we slipped out about 7:30, there were more people we knew standing behind the velvet rope trying to get the guys to find their name on a list. (Another reason we don't normally go to these places. The ropes!)

We are very proud of Lance and his magazine and when the photographer came around we got in the picture with some important friends so maybe we'll get a picture in the magazine. And now we've seen inside the place and looked at the bottle menu so that's checked off my list!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Food, fun and friends

Here's another photo from the party we attended Wednesday night. I decided to try a few shots with the flash off to get a warmer feel on the result. I like this one. Fonda San Miguel has been our neighborhood hangout place for so many years and I did their advertising for a long time. Being able to just walk up there is one thing I will miss when we move downtown.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tom

The restaurant Fonda San Miguel and co-owner and founder Tom Gilliland have lots of friends so those of us invited to the back room last night for music, a buffet of all kinds of goodies and drinks to celebrate Tom's (um not as many as those candles, surely) birthday all said yes I think. There was quite a crowd. FFP caught this great picture of Tom showing his good lungs. He got lots of other great pictures of people. And so did our friend Eugene. See here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

High and Dry

Every winter they lower Lake Austin, the second lake in the series of man made lakes on the Little Colorado, to let docks be repaired and vegetation be cleared. These boats are high and dry and, if you look carefully, you can see a line of birds at the new water's edge doing their best to clean up what the lowered water has exposed for them to eat. It was gray and drizzly and gloomy and cold yesterday and the mud added a grim note here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Theater is a Theater Again

The Ritz was a theater once. Its past in my Austin memory was as a bar, though. It was part of the East Sixth line of "bars LB and FFP probably won't be going to." But the Alamo Drafthouse folks made it a theater again, taking it over as their downtown Austin location so the Colorado location could become...hmm I think some stupid bar! Good for them. I understand the interior is great and they have their goofy stuff like sing-alongs and quote-alongs going on in this location especially. The sign is neat, too, and it's heartening to see it preserved.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Deco Memories

The Scarbrough Department store on Congress was once a downtown landmark. Deco touches on the building and this logo remain but the building contains a gym in the basement, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (facing Sixth), stuff like that. The font on the old logo is a great example, though.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Some Things Endure

When I first came to Austin and met Forrest, we liked to go to The Old Pecan St. Cafe on East Sixth Street. (Back before numbered streets Sixth was Pecan. I think the streets have been numbered for a hundred years but people still like using the old names for flare. Hence there is a Pecan Street Festival on Sixth every year.) It was over three decades ago that I first went to this restaurant. They served crêpes, both a Florentine for an entrée that I liked and a blueberry dessert one, I think. East Sixth at the time had, I think, a few cojunto bars, a place further east called The Raw Deal, Antone's (before it moved to Guadalupe and then W. Fifth). The Driskill was there, of course, and there were transients wandering about. It wasn't just bar after bar seeking the barely twenty-one.

With all the changes, Pecan St. is still there and, when last we checked the crêpes were still offered and pretty good. Very few things last, especially restaurants. But this one has.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Murals and Meaning

This mural is just off Guadalupe at the point across from the University of Texas that is called 'the drag.' Its odd effects seemed to be old hat to the young people rushing by and I had to catch a moment when no one was in front of it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Historic Home on the UT Campus

FFP and I went to a reception on the UT campus last Monday. This Victorian House, built in 1893, survives amid much more modern structures. It is called Littlefield House after the cattle baron, banker, Confederate officer and generous campus benefactor George Littlefield. Inside the first floor has incredible high ceilings and wood detail.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Recession or Not, Austin Rising

The Austonian (luxury condos) on Congress will eventually be taller than the 360 and Frost Bank. Right now it's a hole with cranes but it is a very active construction site. It's interesting when the economy turns in a new direction. Some things just keep right on going because there is no stopping them but you wonder if others will ever really move in the cranes. The structure going up in the background is the Altavida I showed you a few days ago. When these buildings, the 360 and the new AMLI are all full of people, the Second Street and Warehouse districts will be jumping.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Flowering in the heart of Austin

Linda and I hosted a dinner party in one of Austin's finest homes Saturday night. The flowers were provided by Talulah Bleu, the new incarnation of Austin's oldest flower shop. Formerly Tarry Town Florist, Lauren Tolley's shop is going far beyond being just a place to buy pretty plants. She's going to use the land behind her shop to start a Farmer's Market that happens twice a month, complete with live music. And she is featuring the work of many local artisans, such as jewelers, in her retail space.

As luck would have it, I was interviewing her for my newspaper column Tuesday afternoon.

Lauren (shown here) took me around back to show me this natural spring behind the store. Does this look like we're out in the country? Well, about we're just a matter of maybe one hundred feet from busy Exposition Blvd. in the heart of west Austin, not far south of West 35th. And yes, that is a natural spring in the background.

Just a historical note--Tarrytown Florist was run by iconic Austinite R.A. Lewis from 1946 until his death. He used to go crawfishing in the spring shown here. His father held the first agricultural permit in Texas for this land.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mystery Structure

This is the east side of the new 18-story AMLI downtown. It will be occupied shortly if it's not already and there are stores in the bottom. Our question is: what is the girder-like thing on the side? Is it decorative? Something unfinished? We don't know the answer. The harsh winter sun really shines off the skin of the building, though. This was taken a little before ten o'clock last Sunday.

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Downtown Living Under Construction

This construction on the southeast corner of Colorado and 2nd has only risen eight or nine stories. It is suppose to rise to 36 stories and be luxury apartments (not condos). It is called Altavida or Alta Vida or AltaVida. The high life. There isn't much info on it yet. Unlike the W which is still a vacant lot with a sales center and the Four Seasons Condos (which is still a parking lot), this project and the Austonian are actually underway. And this one has reached the stage where it will rise fast.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Austin Java City Hall

The reason I'm posting later than usual is that we got up later than usual and we went out to breakfast and a walk around downtown before I posted. The good news is that I have new pictures. We had breakfast at Austin Java City Hall Cafe. It shares the building with City Hall and we had some tasty Sumatra Coffee and a spinach omelet (FFP) and Tomatillo Eggs Benedict (me). Then we walked around downtown and shot some other pictures so we'll probably be seeing downtown in this space for a while.

Austin Java is a local business with another location around 12th and Lamar. Good coffee but great food, too. This spot will be one of several easy walking choices for a Sunday breakfast or brunch when we live downtown.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Monkey See

Not talking about FFP. Monkey See Monkey Do is the name of the shop on South Congress shown here with its Monkey Sign and FFP looking in. It is right next door to the barber shop (see the pole?) and it is the 'go to' place for gag gifts like refrigerator magnets and little goofy action figures. It is also near an art gallery, a restaurant that we haven't been to in its current incarnation and a tiny grocery (Farm to Market) with an emphasis on local products. We are on South Congress with our ADP picture because I didn't get out of the house at all yesterday trying to avoid cedar pollen counts that are setting off alarms in my head. Seems once you start reacting it is hard for your body to stop. I will get out soon. Promise.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Papered Tree

A prank you see here is taking toilet paper and tossing it in and around trees in someone's yard. Yeah, stupid. I understand the kids of the house think it is good rather than bad attention sometimes. It would make me mad cleaning it up but it isn't the worst vandalism I don't suppose. I took this on Balcones drive and I was too lazy to really stop to take the photo so I shot it out the window at a stop sign. In another part of this sprawling front yard that seems to be all the yard this house has, there is an elaborate playhouse. In another part is a trampoline and, when I snapped the picture, two little kids on the trampoline stopped their play to stare. Either they'd been told to be wary of strangers taking pictures or they thought that they were famous. Either way, they weren't even in the uncropped version of the picture. Of course, maybe they thought I was crazy or that I was recording the 'papering' for someone!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Parking Right at the Door

I thought when I retired I would spend more time at coffee shops watching people and pondering the world. I seem to be always on the go or at home, drinking coffee made in my beloved Capresso machine and busy at my computer or around the house. But Russell's Bakery and Coffee Bar is independent and lies between my club and my current residence so I thought I should finally show it to the readers of Austin, Texas Daily Photo. When I stopped by a couple of days ago to get a snap I noticed a shopping cart piled high with clothes pulled up to the door. The day was mild and I guess the owner of the cart had left his winter gear on top of all his other possessions. The homeless in our neighborhood sure have upscale carts, I thought, wondering if there was another explanation. Sadly I was too busy to stop for a coffee and scone and see if I could tell who owned it. Not to worry, FFP and I saw the gentlemen two days later a mile or so away pushing his distinctive yellow cart. We will add him to other 'characters' in our neighborhood like bicycle recycler and ant watcher. When we move downtown, I'm sure we will have others. Lest I seem too glib about homelessness (or neighborhood characters who may have homes for all I know), we do contribute to charities which serve them although I'm circumspect about direct panhandling particularly at busy highway intersections.

Russell's is quite a good and popular place, by the way. There are alternatives to Starbucks other than McDonald's.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Before we Leave the Avenue

I'm wearing out South Congress, I know, but I haven't gotten recent snaps elsewhere. The Avenue Barber Shop, though, is something a bit different, one of the hold-outs in the neighborhood. (Not so old-school that they don't have a WEB site, though!) And if it's a nice day, I guess you can sit outside (and smoke?) while waiting for your trim. I do go to a barber shop but not this one (I go to a lady barber on Burnet).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Get Your Boots On

I haven't had any cowboy boots in years, but you can certainly get Western Wear in Austin and one spot (Allen's Boots) remains aloof from the SoCo gentrification and sells their wares in a no-nonsense fashion among the trendy art galleries and restaurants and the other hold-out funk like Uncommon Objects and The Continental Club. They don't take much trouble with window displays. Here is a poster for Old Gringos in one.

Monday, January 7, 2008

South Congress Collage

I usually save the 'reflection collection' for my personal blog but I decided to share this one with Austin, Texas Daily Photo readers. I like the way the parked car dovetails with the mannequin and the dress. Of course, there is a reflection of me, too, you can explore by enlarging the picture. Took this on a visit to SoCo last week.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Tropics on Sixth

Ask and ye shall receive readers. Annie mentioned that she would see these trees instead of what was framed in yesterday's picture. Well, last Sunday, when I took yesterday's picture the red light FFP the driver was waiting on gave us enough time to also snap this picture of the palm trees. Austin isn't exactly the tropics and sometimes palms come to grief. These are protected somewhat by the building to the north. These beauties have survived many seasons and inspire tropical-themed decorations from the GSDM people. Maybe next year I'll get a picture of those!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Idea City

This is the West Sixth Street home of the big ad agency GSD&M. They call their home office "idea city." Indeed, marketing is one clever idea after another connected by lots of mundane details. FFP ran a tiny agency before he retired. So he had to have all the ideas and deal with all the details. He is famous among our friends for always checking things over and over. Comes from the ad business. GSD&M has seen it's fortunes soar and also go a bit the other way and I think they sold to an international conglomerate at some point. But they did build a cool building in what is now a vibrant part of the extended downtown Austin. We see one of the initials (Roy Spence) in the paper now and then. We bumped into the 'M' (Tim McClure) the other day. But I don't remember where. I think FFP went to college with them. I like the rubric 'idea city.' Once there was a billboard outside of Austin (unrelated to GSD&M I think) that said 'Austin, Texas...City of Ideas.' Well, I wish it were true. And it does seem to be our biggest natural resource, the thing that's allowed companies like Whole Foods and Dell and National Instruments to take root. I hope we are still fertile ground for imagination but I'm not so sure.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Coffee and Pastry and So Much More

This is one of the windows at Enoteca on South Congress. Just inside there is a little pastry and deli shop but behind that a bar and tables where they serve a full range of Italian comfort food. FFP and I had an errand on the Avenue yesterday and so we popped in and got a seat at the bar. Some baked oysters, a little wine, a rich pasta bowl and a taste of FFP's (rich) soup later, I needed a shot of Caffè myself. (I'm so unworldly, in spite of having been in Italy three times, that I didn't realize that the accent on the e was grave rather than acute in Italian. Of course, maybe the Italians call the accents something else, too. Hmm...accento grave and accento acuto. The Internet is a wonderful reference to the world around you.)

Enoteca is the little brother (fratello piccolo, can't stop myself once I look stuff up) to Vespaio which is a nice upscale Italian place next door that we don't go to much due to a small size and no reservations policy when you are most likely to need them. Both are good, independent places with excellent food.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Austin Music Hall

Across Third Street from our future home is the completely redone, almost-but-not-quite finished Austin Music Hall. I snapped a picture Sunday. It's going to be a neat building. They have taken some flack by trying to have a grand opening before it was finished, but ultimately I think they will be a good neighbor for the Ballet Austin and our home. Can you say Arts District? Of course, if the W Hotel and Condos (and the adjacent new home of Austin City Limits) gets built a couple of blocks away it will be really neat. But we aren't holding our collective breaths because they haven't broken ground.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Grab a Couple of Pair

There is a store I showed you earlier downtown on 2nd Street called Lofty Dog. We are dogless but Sunday we went into the store with our friend who owns a standard poodle. They have dog shoes including this pair, um, quad of colorful tennis shoes! Just what the urban dog needs on the hot pavement, I guess. Although can you imagine? "Hold still! Just one more paw lace needs tying!"

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Picture of the Year---Cheating a Little

The City Photo Bloggers have a theme day on the first of each month. The (optional) theme for today's post is "photo of the year 2007." Says to post your favorite photo of the year from yours or someone else's blog. We didn't start Austin, Texas Daily Photo until May. But in February, a shell of a building, abandoned by Intel in the last bust, was imploded and the land sold to the Feds. When I photographed the mess left after implosion a few days later, you could see our future home (the 360 condos) in the background, still nowhere near its future height. I have selected this picture, even though it appeared on my other blog, because it stands for 2007 to me and shows things in a state they'll never be in again. (We hope anyway.) I also made a video of the implosion on YouTube and FFP loves to laugh at it because you can hear me saying 'it didn't work!' because I really thought they'd implode it into less of a mess.

I have loaded a list below of links to other sites signed up for posting 'photo of the year 2007.' Should be interesting.

Paris, France - London, England - Hyde, UK - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Grenoble, France - Stockholm, Sweden - Riga, Latvia - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Manila, Philippines - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Weston (FL), USA - Prague, Czech Republic - New Orleans (LA), USA - Wichita (KS), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - San Francisco (CA), USA - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Greenville (SC), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Mainz, Germany - Melbourne, Australia - Portland (OR), USA - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Toulouse, France - Naples (FL), USA - Jakarta, Indonesia - Brussels, Belgium - Stayton (OR), USA - Selma (AL), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Toruń, Poland - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Baziège, France - Nashville (TN), USA - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Chicago (IL), USA - Prescott (AZ), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Nottingham, UK - Moscow, Russia - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Evry, France - Trujillo, Peru - Arlington (VA), USA - Denpasar, Indonesia - American Fork (UT), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Coral Gables (FL), USA - Montpellier, France - Joplin (MO), USA - Pilisvörösvár, Hungary - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - Boston (MA), USA - Torun, Poland - New York City (NY), USA - Dunedin (FL), USA - Quincy (MA), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Chateaubriant, France - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Jackson (MS), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Budapest, Hungary - Austin (TX), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - Cypress (TX), USA - Bicheno, Australia - Wrocław, Poland - Brookville (OH), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - Cheltenham, UK - Wellington, New Zealand - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Mumbai (Maharashtra), India - London, UK - Haninge, Sweden - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Arradon, France - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Orlando (FL), USA - Mumbai, India - Terrell (TX), USA - Bogor, Indonesia - Delta (CO), USA - Radonvilliers, France - Saigon, Vietnam - San Diego (CA), USA - Adelaide (SA), Australia - Belgrade, Serbia - Auckland, New Zealand - Seguin (TX), USA - Inverness (IL), USA - Oslo, Norway - Singapore, Singapore - Las Vegas (NV), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Anderson (SC), USA - Torino, Italy - Susanville (CA), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Sharon (CT), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Memphis (Tennessee), USA