Friday, February 29, 2008

Nevertheless, Spring

The pundits say the possibility of a freeze still lurks for a week or two. Nevertheless, our spring harbingers are out in force. The Irises in the side yard planted decades ago are in bloom. And all over town Red Bud trees push out buds and then their pink blooms. Dad's Mountain Laurel has some blooms, too. Yesterday was a day of breezes and an impossibly blue sky, the background for this picture.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A High Rise Apartment Bloomed Here

In April 2004 I had the opportunity to be in the Austin City Lofts. Probably for a downtown home tour, but I'm not sure. I shot this picture of a sprawling market with Mexican pots and such. Today, almost four years later, a large apartment building, the Monarch, is set to open there. The market moved on to another lot downtown and may have taken off for the hinterlands by now. But four years ago on West Fifth you could buy a chiminea or giant pot, put it in your pickup and take off for your suburban house. (Because I couldn't imagine this working for the people living in a loft or condo!) Markets of stuff like this still abound in the area, of course, because we are 'only' a couple of hundred miles from Mexico.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Irie Bean

I mentioned this coffee shop here, but hadn't shown you their sign. This coffee shop is on South Lamar.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Food Illustrated

I love these painted pix of Mexican Food. This one was at El Sol y La Luna, SoCo

Monday, February 25, 2008

Coffee Line

This picture was taken in the summer of 2004. Bikes and people wait for coffee at Jo's on South Congress. But I understand it was VERY HOT today in Austin.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Neighborhood Joint

Billy's on Burnet (we actually call it 'Billy Burger') is an amazing spot with many, many beers on tap, bar games, lots of TVs, an outside deck and really good burgers. Although I usually get the vegetarian Reuben with avocado standing in for meat. With fries. The array of beers on tap is a great temptation to me here, too.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

East Side Mural and Graffiti

I took this picture of a mural and graffiti (on East Fifth I think) in 2004. We are coming up to a theme day on murals or graffiti. This one may still be there. But the one I'll use for theme day is definitely gone. It will be fun if anyone remembers seeing it back in the day.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Neighborhood Fire Station

My friend and I walked to Billy's on Burnet one evening. At the old fire station on Hancock the fire truck and old glory made a nice picture in the dusk.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Green World

It's a green world over at Café Mundi on the on the East Side. At least it was in 2004 when I took this picture. This is one of many independent coffee shops and restaurants in Austin. Yeah, we have the Starbucks, too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Looking Back at an Unfinished Mural

This picture was shot not quite four years ago on the East Side (E. Fifth near Cafe Mundi?). The mural is obviously only partly sketched in, but most Austinites would only assume one thing about what is being depicted. I leave you to muse among yourselves. Also, if you're an Austinite...what's it look like at this spot now?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Up and Down Hills

Before we leave the marathon I thought I'd run a picture showing part of the runners streaming up and down the Hancock grade as it goes down to the bridge over Shoal Creek and back up to the elevation of Shoal Creek Boulevard.

I was interested that some WEB surfer couldn't find a better place to complain about the things that he/she thought were wrong with the race than this site. Amusing. If I have time I will edit more pictures of the marathoners later. But we won't show any more here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cold Front Stalled

There were dire predictions for the weather yesterday as a cold front penetrated into the Panhandle of Texas and Saturday was cold and gray and miserable. Marathon and half Marathon runners were probably planning layers and steeling themselves for a miserable time. But by the time the sun got up Sunday was glorious and these runners, who have almost reached the halfway point of the race (about a block from our house) were down to basics.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wild Life West Sixth

These critters are statues in front Fortney's on West Sixth. This store has to have the most merchandise per square foot of any place in town and some of the most monumental pieces.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sweetish Hill

We have explored only a few places on West Sixth west of Lamar...Amy's and Wiggy's, I think. When I was there last Sunday, the purpose was coffee and a snack at Sweetish Hill.

The name of this place may seem puzzling when you see that it isn't really located on a hill (although there is one behind it). Actually, and this may surprise some of you Austin experts as well, the bakery started its life east of IH35 in a neighborhood known as Swedish Hill so the name was a bit of a pun on the location and the sweet buns! They moved to W. Sixth Street long ago and kept the name. However, the bakery was located where Portabla is today at first with a similarly named restaurant where Café Josie is today. (The restaurant had the best Beef Wellington I've ever eaten and served Sunday brunch where we pored over our Sunday New York Times we'd bought at Watson's Books next door. This was before you could have them throw a New York Times in your yard in Austin, before it was actually printed here.)

The current incarnation of Sweetish Hill serves a full breakfast sometimes we found out last Sunday. Patricia Bauer-Slate, has recently sold her ownership to her long-time partner we saw in our friend Virginia Woods' food column.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Favorite Liquor Store

Well, not my favorite, but the name of a long-standing liquor store on West Sixth with some good, old-fashioned neon still burning. My favorite liquor store would be more problematic. This one will be close to my new home, but I can't ever remember shopping there.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Piece of My Heart

I was about to post another photo of a liquor store on West Sixth and then I remembered it was Valentine's Day. So I picked this out of pictures from the party we went to Sunday. Of course, it made me think of that song Janis Joplin sang back in the day (our day that is). Had to search the Internet for the is a YouTube video of her performing it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Iconic Liquor Store

West Sixth Street has restaurants, bars and galleries but also a couple of liquor stores that have outlasted most everything. Wiggy's is truly iconic. It's been there as long as I've been in Austin and, I think, even longer based on the creaky wooden floors inside. They have the usual brands but also some fine wines. They weren't open when I took this but, when they are, I think they have a cigar store Indian outside. Yeah, I think they have the tobacco vice covered, too.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Frost Bank Tower from a Different Perspective

This shot was taken from the Headliners Club in this building. The lights that seem to be spinning around the top are really the reflection of a chandelier in the window. This is a different way of looking at the building than from the street as here and here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Grouch at a Party

Or maybe I should say 'the' grouch. The party promised 'Sweets and Treats' in honor of the season. Valentine's, that is. That's why FFP has on a pink shirt. The reason Oscar the Grouch is going for his throat or why Oscar was at the party is less clear. We found wine and champagne and coffee and an array of sweets. Expected. We found a lot of people including many known to us as 'the usual suspects' in our circle. But Oscar and his handler, Caroll Spinney, were a surprise. Mr. Spinney, it turns out, played Big Bird on the actual show and, apparently, Oscar sometimes, too. Some little kids were watching in awe. I said "Who's the green one?" A little girl looked up at me in amazement and whispered breathlessly "Oscar." Inside the house later (the picture was taken in the pleasant garden on a pleasant Austin day) we were listening to the piano player and I was eying their book collection when I saw a copy of Mr. Spinney's book about his Sesame Street experience on top of a pile. We never found out from the hosts when they became friends with him or exactly why he was there with Oscar.

That's what makes parties great. A little something unexpected!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mueller is Taking Off

In 1930 an airport opened in what was undoubtedly the far reaches of north Austin. When I moved to Austin, Robert Mueller Airport was practically in the heart of the city, circumscribed by 51st St./Airport/Manor and IH35. Planes were sort of low over our house as they approached the airport from the west (which they usually did) and so low over areas east of us that it depressed property values. There is a coffee shop on Duval St. and 51st called Flight Path to this day. Newly arrived college kids probably can't fathom why.

For the first almost quarter of a century that I lived in Austin the airport was convenient to our house if the access once there and the array of flights was not. In 1999 a reconfigured, decommissioned Air Force Base, Bergstrom, opened as our airport (Austin Bergstrom International Airport, ABIA, still AUS on your luggage). Mueller started the new millennium as a political redevelopment football among governmental agencies. Finally a plan for housing and retail plus some public facilities emerged. The centerpiece of the place today is the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas. This tower with the colorful windows on the hospital evokes the old airport tower. (So, the patient reader finally knows what the picture represents! We love words here at Austin Daily Photo...go figure.)

Currently the area is only a small part of what it will be. The hospital and a Ronald McDonald House are in operation. A number of mid-range household and clothing stores and chain restaurants are operating. Some buildings that look like offices are up. Housing is under contract. Streets names after locally famous people like Kenneth Threadgill and Clifford Antone are planned. I figure the emergence of this dense, mixed used area near downtown will mean all us condo dwellers can easily take public transportation to shop at, say, Best Buy. The 'easily' will probably emerge some time in 2025 or after when oil is $1000 a gallon! Meanwhile the shopping didn't seem too busy on a Saturday and it is convenient to our house so FFP and I were able to dispose of a simple errand (a new tea kettle for his mom) without getting on a highway.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Blast from The Past Saturday

I'm not saying that I'm going to show a dated picture every Saturday but a theme day is coming up Saturday, March 1 and I do have a plan for that one ("a street mural or some graffiti in your city. This can be anything from some random graffiti on a wall to a professionally done mural spanning the entire façade of a building") that is something that is no longer seen. Which put me in the mind of pictures of things that are no longer here or look different than they once did.

This photo is from July 2004. The trompe l'oeil mural is, I think, still there on a street just off South Congress. Our dog was still alive and up for walks back then, though, so we know it's dated. Do you know Austin? Do you have suggestions for the theme? Because we may run a series of them. In fact, we've already done some graffiti and murals in the past.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Rusty Bus of Dreams

Before we leave the stack (in the digital sense) of pictures taken on South Lamar Sunday I thought I'd show you the bus that decorates the parking lot of the Broken Spoke which I showed you a few days ago. My friend and I were commenting on how while the bus was a relatively boxy thing the window tilting forward and the streak of chrome were meant to show speed and the machine age. This 'band bus' isn't going off to a gig anytime soon. Christmas lights are massed inside the driver's seat, too.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dress Differently

I have a bad habit of taking detailed shots of shot windows where you can't see the shop as a place to shop but more as an abstract reflection. I try to confine those to my more personal space, of course. But for Austin Daily Photo I think I should show you places you might like to shop. Big Bertha's might be the place for you if you are looking to have a unique outfit. There are many unique outfits in South Austin (this shop is in the center with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South and other cool stuff). The shop is on the north side of the center. (Just in case there sign has succumbed to the wind before you get there!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Icon or Eyesore?

When I stopped on Sunday on South Lamar to snap a picture of the Broken Spoke, the friend who was with me said "icon or eyesore?" I thought she was clever but she said she stole it and she surely did, from the Austin Chronicle (see here). Anyway, the Broken Spoke, a boot-scooting C&W bar on South Lamar is supposed to remain, um, iconic amid some new development. They weren't open Sunday afternoon. (No big screens for a Super Bowl event?) My friend said that they advertised the best chicken-fried steak in Austin or something and she had one and it wasn't. It's been so long since I had one anywhere that I could be no judge. But if you want to two-step and hear music about cheating hearts? This is your place.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Do You Have Any Tattoos?

There seem to be a lot of tattoo parlors (as I've always heard them called) in Austin. You would therefore expect to see a lot of tattoos. And you do. Especially if you go to the right places. Shop at Whole Foods, Wheatsville, Thundercloud, Amy's and most independent coffee shops and you are likely to be waited on by people with tattoos, piercings and hair colors not found in nature. I wouldn't do any of these things myself but I enjoy the show.

On Sunday while the world hung on the Super Bowl, I went shopping and to a movie with a friend, getting home in time to see the dramatic final minutes live instead of watching off the DVR. We were on South Lamar and needed a refreshing drink so we went to a coffee shop in a small strip center. The shop shared the space with a tattoo parlor, a piercing salon and a hair salon where I bet you can get purple or green hair. I shot this picture of the tattoo parlor's window (it is Rock of Ages Tattoo) and, when we'd settled into Irie Bean Coffee Bar for our drink, I mentioned that the place was pleasant and, what's more, you might see people with interesting tattoos while sitting there. A large man in overalls came in with hardly any visible skin not decorated. "Sometimes you say something and it materializes," said my companion.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Late Night Ice Cream

It wasn't late when I took this picture of the Amy's just west of Lamar on Sixth Street but it was dark enough to show the neon to good effect. This Amy's, our local ice cream success story, however often has a line late at night. In the past we've featured the Amy's on Burnet where they have a hamburger joint (Phil's Ice House) and a playground, and we showed the selection board of the SoCo location. So I guess we are doing a pretty good job of promoting Amy's even though they don't advertise much in traditional ways (according to their WEB site) preferring to get PR through participation in charitable works. We aren't big ice cream eaters in this family. One of us can't eat it, one eats some a few times a year. That would be me. My favorite is usually a coffee flavor but once Amy's made a Guinness one and it was great!

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Hut's is an Austin classic. I haven't had a burger there in a long time, but last night I walked by the West Sixth location of this burger joint. It was between 6:30 and 7:00 and FFP and I were going to a fund raiser that started at Aquarelle (just north of West Sixth and Rio Grande) and ended at Nest Modern in the Whit Hanks center (just west of Lamar on West Sixth). The weather last night was cloudy but warm (over 70) and we decided to park near the second location and walk to the first. Hence I captured Hut's neon and peeked through the big front window to see crowds inside. Classic burgers? It's been too long since I had one for me to give an opinion. But classic neon anyway.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


We crowded into a sold-out Mansion at Judge's Hill ballroom for dinner seating to see Charo. Yes, Charo. She is still alive and well and singing and joking around playing flamenco guitar. She played "Bolero." I'm not kidding. There were no admonitions about cameras. In fact, she mixed and danced with the audience and posed for our flashes. Songs, dance, and guitar arrangements with her fab band boys. A benefit for Austin Cabaret Theatre the event was good fun. A college friend of FFP's came and sat with us and brought her UT student son who had great fun. Fun for all ages as they say. We saw old friends and also sat with the owners of The Chocolate Bar and Candylicious in Houston who are quite the bon vivants.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Austin is Known for...Music

Meet Margaret Wright. She can be found just about any place in Austin on any given night, tickling the ivories and singing standards and show tunes. But I admit that I did not expect to see her playing a keyboard smack in the middle of a disco dance floor with lights underneath and a mirrored ball above. In a gay bar (Rain, 4th St. downtown in the Warehouse District). I have seen Margaret play a piano worth six figures at a magnificent home full of antiques and decorated elaborately for Christmas. At at lots of other venues, private homes and private clubs especially. She belted out "Summertime" last night. We were headed a bit later to the new Austin Music Hall to see the Zachary Scott Theater's "Porgy and Bess" so that was appropriate.

I really think that when people think about Austin they think about the music they love. They think about SXSW, Austin City Limits and ACL festival, Antones and many clubs with their favorite music live. Our tastes are a bit old-fashioned (cabaret, jazz, the rock of our youth). Our first date was at Armadillo World Headquarters. Listening to the Louisiana blues country style of Marcia Ball (no relation) and the Misery Brothers.

So, it's not the lakes, hill, the Capitol or the UT tower. It's music. And in spite of the whining about smoking bans and cost of living for musicians, it's still there. And maybe not just what you expect on any given night!

This is City Daily Photo's Theme Day. These other sites signed up to show you what their city is known for.
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