Monday, March 31, 2008

Texas Chic

Texas Chic was the dress theme Saturday night at the Long Center. Will Wynn, Austin's mayor and his friend were boot scooting when FFP stopped them to take the picture.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

After all The Hoopla...We Declare it Open!

To make it feel like we had celebrated sufficiently to declare the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts, The Michael and Susan Dell Hall, The Debra and Kevin Rollins Studio Theater and the City Terrace outside the center open for business the party continued last night.

There was barbecue. There were libations. (Thanks, Twin Liquors for amazing choices befitting all the occasions of the last few weeks! Real champagne to toast the Notable Women plaque Thursday! Shiner Black last night! And on and on.)

Then the unruly crowd filed into Dell Hall. Michael and Susan were in their hall Friday night, but I didn't see them last night. But most of the movers and shakers were there along with people who had ponied up just to see the show (and have some of the aforementioned libations). Ray Benson (and Asleep at the Wheel) played some great stuff and supervised the stage and brought on Lyle Lovett, Willie (needs no last name to be introduced), Ricky Trevino and
Flaco Jimenez — and all-Texan line-up to send the center off on its venture with opera, ballet, symphony, musical theater, plays, Rock, Jazz, Country and anything the eclectic denizens of the Capital City desire. At the end, with everyone on the stage singing "On the Road Again" we were muttering "this is a band you will never see all together again!"

We managed to get outside in time to stand on the City Terrace and see the magnificent fireworks display. (The Men's Room line was longer than the Ladies! YES!) I tried the fireworks setting on my old point and shoot digital. This won't win any awards, but take the time to blow it up with a click and look in the bottom right corner. That is our building, our home in a few months, dutifully reflecting the looked like colored lights were racing up and down its spine. And the 'ring' of the City Terrace illuminated Long Center purple here, saved from the old Palmer Auditorium, will surely become an icon to Austin. It's great how they can project light on it.

Did I mention there was boot scooting music in the tent with the barbecue before the concert? After the concert there were Frito Pies, libations (thanks again Twin Liquors!) and more two stepping and such. (We didn't have boots, but we scooted.)

If this entry seems a little like a booster piece for Austin, the Long Center, Austin Arts, downtown development etc. well, so be it. I'm a booster I guess. It will be possible, one day, for me to walk to this lovely venue! [It would be a shorter trip if I had a boat to go across Lady Bird Lake.]

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Long-Awaited Opening

Inside and out the Long Center was full of people in finery and performances. There was eating and drinking. I think this girl in a bubble on the rain-soaked City Terrace with the search lights and light show on the ring is a beautiful picture from my puny camera. Nothing could really capture this event. Tonight there is a redo, Texas-style! Everything is bigger and better in Texas, you know. Or so they say. Reviews of the hotel opening scene in "Giant" recommended to make this seem tame.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Architect for Our New Performing Arts Center

There have been scores of events leading up to the official opening of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, a privately-funded venue for performing arts in Austin. At one of them Gloria Evans, left, and Eva Womack, right, were among dozens honored as major donors. Here they are embraced by Stan Haas, the architect who managed to shepherd the project to completion. The building is lovely. I have no idea how Stan brought all the competing voices together to complete such an inspired design.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Candy from the Big Top

No, the circus wasn't in town. There is a relatively new shop (less than a year old?) on South Congress that has an old-fashioned soda fountain and tons of old-fashioned candy. (Although the Gummi phenomena reached the US after I was a grown person!) They have lots of bars and packages of candy and bins of bulk candy, too. So if you're in SoCo and need a Bit 'o Honey or candy corn fix, there you go. When we visited last Saturday, there was a long line at the soda fountain.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Old, New and soon Newest

Walking south on Congress downtown, my friend and I were struck by the echo of the shape of the historic Joe Koppel building (Fourth and Congress) in the 100 Congress building. The crane is there to help bring up the 56-story Austonian Residences to fruition. (The smallest units planned in the Austonian are the size of our 360 condo. I'll bet that some of the 8000 square foot plus penthouses are still available if you have a few spare millions of dollars. Around 7.5 according to some sources.)

By the way, while trying to find a little info on the Koppel building, I found the assertion that the fellow who built it in the 19th Century did so with the proceeds from medical quackery. It was a grand building for 1888, I'll bet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Reflections

When the Frost Bank Tower (at Congress and 4th) was finished and its top lighted four years ago, it was a symbol that things were not just going to stop after 9/11. (Ground was broken for this building only a couple of months after September 11.) A friend of mine drives through downtown each day on her way to her job south of downtown. She is moving to the same downtown high rise we are. (The 360 Condominiums.) She told me that at one point on West Fifth Street the 360 could be seen reflected in the Frost. We sat out on foot one day to capture this. I have a feeling the shot was even better in the middle of the street but this one was taken from the sidewalk.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Texas State Flower

I haven't seen any Texas Bluebonnets, the Texas State Flower, blooming along the roadsides and in the pastures. To be honest I have been out of the city much lately. These specimens are blooming under cultivation in the landscaping at Austin City Hall. Some of our neighbors have planted them on purpose, too, but loads of them sprout voluntarily as the wildflowers they are. (Although there are sometimes campaigns to spread the seeds along highways to help nature along.) The pink ones in the background? Well, after the bluebonnets I get vague on the wildflower identification!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Armadillo Transport

Austin has these downtown buses that look like trolleys, are decorated with armadillos (a locally-favored critter as a carton which we feel differently about if they are digging a lawn) and are called 'Dillos. They are free but there are complaints that there routes and schedules are less than totally helpful. We hope they have a shuttle between downtown condos and the Long Center when it opens. They could even charge and it would be OK with me. Whatever the routes, I'm sure I can find them useful when I live downtown. I'll use my feet a lot but they might get me to SoCo or the University easily.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Commuter Rail

Commuter Rail? Austin doesn't have it. But the Capital Metro people got money for it and besides tinkering with tracks and stations they have bought some expensive rolling stock. I was driving around near Metric Boulevard and 183 and found the cars, looking all spiffy. They won't have riders for years, I guess.

Friday, March 21, 2008


As Austin has grown the variety of religious expression has exploded. Still the giant gold Buddha one caught a glimpse of while driving along Cap. of Texas Hwy. North (360) always surprised and delighted. It is the International Buddhist Progress Society of Austin with its Fo Guang Shan Hsiang Yun Temple. The flags have intrigued me, too, and they are apparently Buddhist flags. I'll give you a better look at some of the flags tomorrow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Not Lance's Bike Shop

Big news about a month ago was that a building across the street from our new home (the 360 condos) was being converted into a 'commuter bike shop' by none other than Lance Armstrong. This is NOT that shop but a place on the funky shopping strip along North Loop where you are obviously invited to peddle up and sit a while. I'm not a biker but I wish them well. I'm going to use my legs when gas is too expensive and walk. I'm a little afraid to bike. But this looks like an inviting place to get a pair of wheels.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Satellite Dishes

These satellite dishes download signals for the local Time Warner Cable. I was returning a box to them the other day and thought the dishes and parked cars (in black and white) looked interesting. The office is at Duval Road and Mopac.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Room Service Vintage

There is a little shopping district on the eastern part of North Loop (which honestly isn't a loop and is pretty central these days) that has included various vintage stores and other little independent shops over the years. A collectibles shop called Hog Wild, a place called Music Exchange (where you can buy used instruments and consign same) and this store, Room Service Vintage, have been the stalwarts.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Austin Arts

We were privileged to be invited to a private home last night to hear the Miró Quartet, the resident string quartet at the University of Texas. After the amazing concert there was a reception. Unfortunately, I couldn't get all the players in a picture. But this photo shows (left to right) Professor Doug Dempster, Interim Dean of the College of Fine Arts; his wife Kathryn Anderson, a health care consultant, I believe she said, but sometimes poet, too, according to Doug; John Largess, who plays Viola in the quartet; and Daniel Ching, violin. The idea of having a resident string quartet to represent UT and build up studies in strings and string quartet performance was floated a few years ago and the University received some funds from the community to make it happen. The house belongs to one couple who helped fund it.

The tall man in the background is Dr. Ernest Butler. He and his wife, Sarah, have underwritten the arts at UT by establishing the Butler Opera Center there. And, of course, the Butlers are responsible for the lead donation on the Butler Dance Education Center for Ballet Austin which will be near our new home downtown. There were other people at this party who would be recognized because their name is on an art venue, too!

This was a wonderful event and we are honored to know people who support the arts in such wonderful ways and to meet these amazing musicians and hear them play in such an intimate setting.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blueberry Pie

I rarely eat dessert but last night at Zoot Restaurant I had a little individual blueberry pie. It was served with a very lemony ice cream but I had it on the side so FFP could taste the pie. Zoot is a wonderful restaurant and, during SXSW, it was a bit calmer than the downtown spots would have been. (Zoot is not far from downtown but west of Mopac in an old house just off Lake Austin Blvd.) Our entire meal here was lovely as always.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Old Duds

I can tell by their outfits that lots of people in town for SXSW shop for vintage. (Actually, we haven't done much SXSW this year but I'm sure past experience holds.) The New Bohemia shop on South Congress is a great place to shop for same. On the day I shot this picture, they had a display outside of corduroy spots coats. Yesterday's temps would have made those seem out of place. It got into the '90's.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Smells like Spring

Mountain Laurels grow well here at the edge of the Hill Country. These examples were in full bloom last Sunday at the Arboretum. (The Arboretum isn't a real arboretum as in a place to plant and study trees but a shopping mall that was all the rage a couple of decades ago. It still houses a giant Barnes and Noble so we find ourselves there now and then.) Apparently only in Texas do we call this small flowering tree the Mountain Laurel. According to Wikipedia it is actually the Texas Mescalbean! Or scientifically Calia secundiflora. Trust me, though. In Central Texas most people call it the Mountain Laurel. They are heavily in bloom now and if you come anywhere near them they fill the air with an over-the-top odor like grapes or a grape confection.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Smoke, Fire and Ice

Hoover's is another eatery on Manor just east of the Interstate. This isn't a great picture, shot hastily from across the street, but the sign says "Smoke, Fire and Ice House." I take that to mean they have smoked meat, a bit of spice and the comfort food associated with the South Texas Ice House. (I believe that joints sprang up around ice purveyors to serve barbecue, burgers and cool drinks. This model wasn't prevalent where I grew up, a few hundred miles to the north. There is a local burger joint chain called Waterloo Ice House. Have to get some pix of their locations some time.) I haven't eaten at Hoover's but lots of friends recommend it. I thought it was more just Southern cooking like meat loaf and mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

End Your Diet

South Congress is now home to the "hey cupcake" trailer and on a fine day a week or so ago people were partaking of the sweets.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

To Dine For

When I was dining at Stortini on Manor last week, I shot some pictures of some other things. Vivo is vividly decorated I'll say that. I don't have a recent enough dining experience to say whether it is Tex Mex to 'Dine' For!

Monday, March 10, 2008


This picture shows the 'ring' of the new Long Center for the Performing Arts with the 360 Condos looming up into a threatening sky. It was taken a week ago when we 'visited our opera seats.' The Center had a bunch of events over the weekend, but we didn't make any of them. The sky is threatening (and it's actually raining) today so I thought this fit the mood.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

For the Birds

You see these all over town but I shot this picture last Wednesday on Manor Road. This is a modern contraption meant to attract Purple Martins in the summer for their nesting season. There is a guy here with a business installing these man made nests. I don't know much about them but a brief WEB search yielded a map of sightings and the claim that they are totally dependent on man made nests. Also, the assertion that they eat insects out of the air which could account for humans wanting to court their presence.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stortini on the East Side

There was a time when you went east on Manor past IH35 to find either East Side Cafe with its tasty fresh food (and garden, show here) or to find some authentic family Tex-Mex. Manor is now home to Hoover's Home Cooking, some more fancy pants Tex-Mex ventures and Stortini, an Italian place. The decoration of the place is interesting. There are desert plants outside which might hint at a Tex-Mex past. The door handle was shaped like a giant horseshoe. Inside a geometric wallpaper, a bunch of small cheap chandeliers and old mirrored vanity trays and other mirrors on every wall somehow made the statement that now you were someplace else. I had lunch there Wednesday and I was quite impressed with it. Have to try dinner there soon.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Before the Cold

We've just had another front push out of the west and it pushed temperatures down and brought snow to northern non-Panhandle parts of Texas (but not us thank goodness). Last evening we were out briefly, ducking our heads against a bitter wind but I took this just the day before in our side yard. Azaleas aren't really suited for our soil but these have managed to bloom for quite a few years.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sandy's Frozen Custard Forever

On Barton Springs Road near its intersection with South First and Riverside, right across from the transformed area that now includes the Long Center and the Palmer Events Center and a parking garage and a park you will find Sandy's Frozen Custard and Root Beer. Well, that's what the sign says (which is pretty cool so I put it in an inset), but they have burgers, too. I haven't eaten there in a long, long time. I have no idea how long the place has been here. As long as I've been in Austin for sure.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

No Electioneering Beyond

In Texas at least (the only state where I've ever had a permanent residence and voted) the polling places in schools, libraries, retirement homes and other convenient spots have a boundary beyond which you can't place signs or approach voters to talk about your candidate. The officials put up a sign saying "no electioneering beyond this point." At our polling place yesterday this sea of signs washed up against that boundary. If you pay attention to the news, you will know that Democratic and Republican voters not only voted in a number of elections, including for delegates to national conventions for president and local ones, but attended caucuses where other delegates were committed for Dems. The most important thing you can learn from this picture, though, is that there is a candidate named 'Larry Joe.' What could be more Texas than that? You have to wonder if he was christened Lawrence Joseph or just Larry Joe.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

And Get Out the Vote

That shop with all the black on South Congress had this sign up about ten days ago. [Blackmail is the name of the shop, of course, and they've provided ATDP with pictures here and here! So don't pretend you don't know the name, LB.]

Today is election day for our party primaries in Texas. We tried like some of the less massive states to move our election day so it would be more meaningful. After we were thwarted it appears that the Democrats are still very much in a horse race as we might say here if we had much horse racing.

I'm stopping this entry before it becomes wordy and self-serving like my personal blog.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tacos on South Congress

Guero's was on SoCo before it was SoCo. When there were still mostly true junk shops on the street and the neighborhood barber and such. It predates the conversion of the San Jose Motel from a true dive to house the down and out to the ultra-sophisticated place it is now. (Liz Lambert, the owner of the San Jose, was named by Texas Monthly as someone to watch in the future.)

Guero's has a large, cavernous old building that could have been a general store back in the day. A roof over the sidewalk in front provides some outside tables (often used by people with dogs in tow). This sign is actually in the oak-shaded lot next door where they have an outdoor bar and stage for special events. And they serve all kinds of fare, not just tacos, and have several delicious homemade salsas.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Aliens Have Landed

Not really. What has really landed in Austin is a new performance space, The Long Center for the Performing Arts. The picture was taken from the Kodosky Donors Lounge where floor to ceiling windows give you a downtown view. There is a circle outside, just beyond the plaza. The circle has embedded lights that change colors and it is raked toward the plaza. We think it is intended as a stage.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bygone Mural

This mural used to be on North Lamar somewhere I think. Not very far north, maybe around 8th or 9th. Maybe it was by a car lot on the west side. Could be I took this in the '90's. But it once stood in Austin, that much I'm sure of. And it is no more. I'm pretty sure of that. The sentiment (and vehicles and hairdos) may seem a little dated but Austin is still a place where worlds and ideas collide, usually pleasantly. Weigh in if you remember seeing this mural in Austin. (I almost used this but decided it was too esoteric and there is an X-rated word, too.) I do want to use this blog to preserve things that are going away or gone, but I'll keep you up with current street art from time to time as well.

It is theme day. These 144 sites have vowed to post on the theme "a street mural or some graffiti in your city."

Adelaide, Australia by Gordon, Albuquerque (NM), USA by Helen, Aliso Viejo (CA), USA by Rodney, American Fork (UT), USA by Annie, Anderson (SC), USA by Lessie, Arradon, France by Alice, Ashton under Lyne, UK by Pennine, Athens, Greece by Debbie, Auckland, New Zealand by Lachezar, Austin (TX), USA by LB, Bandung, Indonesia by Guntur Purwanto, Baziège, France by PaB, Belgrade, Serbia by BgdPic, Bellefonte (PA), USA by Barb-n-PA, Bicheno, Australia by Greg, Boston (MA), USA by Fenix, Boston (MA), USA by Cluelessinboston, Boston (MA), USA by Sarah, Whit, & Leyre, Brighton, UK by Harvey, Bucaramanga, Colombia by Fernando, Budapest, Hungary by Zannnie and Zsolt, Budapest, Hungary by Isadora, Buenos Aires, Argentina by Karine, Canterbury, UK by Rose, Cape Town, South Africa by Kerry-Anne, Chandler (AZ), USA by Melindaduff, Chateaubriant, France by Bergson, Cheltenham, UK by Marley, Chicago (IL), USA by U R us, Chicago (IL), USA by b.c., Christchurch, New Zealand by Michelle, Clearwater (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Clearwater Beach (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Cleveland (OH), USA by iBlowfish, Cologne, Germany by April11, Coral Gables (FL), USA by Jnstropic, Detroit (MI), USA by Taittems, Dunedin (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Durban, South Africa by CrazyCow, Evry, France by Olivier, Forks (WA), USA by Corinne, Glasgow, Scotland by Jackie, Greenville (SC), USA by Denton, Grenoble, France by Bleeding Orange, Guelph, Canada by Pat, Helsinki, Finland by Kaa, Hobart, Australia by Greg, Hyde, UK by Gerald, Inverness (IL), USA by Neva, Jackson (MS), USA by Halcyon, Jefferson City (MO), USA by Chinamom2005, Joplin (MO), USA by Victoria, Juneau (AK), USA by Gwyn, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Edwin, Kyoto, Japan by Tadamine, Larchmont (NY), USA by Marie-Noyale, Le Guilvinec, France by ds2944, Lisbon, Portugal by Sailor Girl, Lisbon, Portugal by Jsaltao, Lodz, Poland by ritalounge, London, UK by Ham, London, UK by Mo, Mainz, Germany by JB, Maple Ridge, Canada by Susan, Mazatlan, Mexico by Kate, Melbourne, Australia by Mblamo, Melbourne, Australia by John, Memphis (TN), USA by SouthernHeart, Menton, France by Jilly, Mexico, Mexico by Poly, Mexico City, Mexico by Carraol, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Mitch, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Greg, Monte Carlo, Monaco by Jilly, Montréal, Canada by Douber, Moscow, Russia by Irina, Mumbai, India by MumbaiIteanu, Mumbai, India by Kunalbhatia, Naples (FL), USA by Isabella, Nashville (TN), USA by Chris, Nelson, New Zealand by Meg and Ben, New Orleans (LA), USA by steve buser, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK by Cassie & Chris, Niamey, Niger by Dinabee, Norwich, UK by Goddess888, Nottingham, UK by Gail's Man, Ocean Township (NJ), USA by Josy, Paris, France by Eric, Pasadena (CA), USA by Can8ianben, Pasadena (CA), USA by Petrea, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia by Murphy_jay, Pilisvörösvár, Hungary by Elise, Port Angeles (WA), USA by Jelvistar, Port Elizabeth, South Africa by Sam, Port Vila, Vanuatu by Mblamo, Prague, Czech Republic by Honza03, Quincy (MA), USA by Cluelessinboston, Radonvilliers, France by Deslilas, Riga, Latvia by Prokur, Rome, Italy by Giovanni, Rotterdam, Netherlands by Ineke, Saarbrücken, Germany by LadyDemeter, Saint Louis (MO), USA by Strangetastes, Saint Paul (MN), USA by Kate, Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation by Lark, San Antonio (TX), USA by Kramer, San Diego (CA), USA by Felicia, San Diego (CA), USA by Zentmrs, Santa Fe (NM), USA by Randem, Seattle (WA), USA by Kim, Seattle (WA), USA by Chuck, Seguin (TX), USA by Thien, Selma (AL), USA by RamblingRound, Sesimbra, Portugal by Aldeia, Setúbal, Portugal by Maria Elisa, Sharon (CT), USA by Jenny, Silver Spring (MD), USA by John, Singapore, Singapore by Keropok, Sofia, Bulgaria by Antonia, St Francis, South Africa by Sam, Stavanger, Norway by Tanty, Stayton (OR), USA by Celine, Stockholm, Sweden by Stromsjo, Subang Jaya, Malaysia by JC, Sydney, Australia by Sally, Székesfehérvár, Hungary by Teomo, Terre Haute (IN), USA by Zann, Terrell (TX), USA by Bstexas, Terrell (TX), USA by Jim K, The Hague, Netherlands by Lezard, Tokyo, Japan by Tadamine, Torun, Poland by Torun Observer, Toulouse, France by Julia, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Jazzy, Twin Cities (MN), USA by Slinger, Vienna, Austria by G_mirage2, Wailea (HI), USA by Kuanyin, Wassenaar, Netherlands by Rich, Wellington, New Zealand by Jeremyb, West Paris (ME), USA by crittoria, West Sacramento (CA), USA by Barbara, Weston (FL), USA by WestonDailyPhoto, Wrocław, Poland by Loompi, Yardley (PA), USA by Mrlynn