Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Predicting 2009

Since everyone will be making their predictions for the new year, I thought I'd show you the 'office' of a professional prognosticator. You can also buy a car, I guess. This place is on South Lamar.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Destruction and Revelation

There was going to be a Marriot Hotel complex on Congress. Tesoros Trading moved. Las Manitas closed with a vague promise to reopen in space the owners owned up the street. Even though the hotel is postponed the old buildings they occupied were torn down. My theory is it was a permit or tax issue. (See the bottom part of this collage which shows the old Tesoros mural before destruction.) Notice the interesting old ad murals revealed after Las Manitas is down.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A New Art Work/Memorial

It's important to walk the same paths you've been down before with your case the light is different or they tear something down or build something new. This work of art or memorial is going up near the Hike and Bike Trail and the Mexican American Cultural Center near Rainey Street. The name 'Perez' is on the arch above. In the background you can see the Milago condominiums and the Legacy apartments. The latter appear ready to take renters, if they haven't already.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Burger Joint

An Austin original, this is Hill-Bert's Burgers. It used to be on North Lamar and has now taken over a former Taco Bell on a little dead part of 35th. The old car (Jetta I think?) towing a burger? Can't explain. Haven't had their burgers in years but used to be excellent.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tee Shopping

We went to see "Milk" last night. (I highly recommend it, but I'm a little late with a movie review for that one.) That is relevant to this picture because this is the the T-Shirt store inside Alamo Ritz. (Downtown on Sixth.) If you are in town and want a really unusual Tee, stop in the movie lobby and shop. You can get a T-Shirt of something we shot for ADP even.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lights on the River

FFP shot this walking back across Lady Bird Lake from Long Center the other night. The trees along the newly renovated south shore are lit up and behind the Silicon Labs building the lights in the southern spine of our building stream upwards. We got glimpses of and photographed the building many times before we lived there. (See here and here.) Now it's a beacon to draw us home.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hope Your Day is Bright

It's a bit dreary out this morning in Austin, but hopefully it will brighten up into beautiful day like yesterday. This is FFP posing with the tree in the lobby of the Chase building. His bright muffler (it was cold and dreary day before yesterday when this was taken) was given to me by a South African friend, hence the colors. (Although given the red and green it passes muster for Christmas.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Final Mother Ginger of the Season

Ballet Austin ended a successful run of the "Nutcracker" (its first at Long Center) last night. The social columnist of the Austin American-Statesman, Michael Barnes, surrounded himself with his friends, his partner and even his personal trainer while being transformed into make-up and costume for the role (inset) of Mother Ginger, played each year by a series of notables.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not Your Italian Pizza

The empanada stand at the Farmer's Market Saturday had some other offerings, among them pizza. Most looked to have ordinary toppings but that one in the foreground? Macaroni and cheese!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Some Festive Lights

I chose some random lights in a yard in South Austin to give you something festive for today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mother Ginger Ready for Her Entrance

Stephen Moser, fashion editor of the Austin Chronicle (the local alternative weekly) is all made up and ready to ride the skirt on Friday as Mother Ginger. This role in Ballet Austin's "Nutcracker" involves a very large skirt on wheels. A VIP dresses in the costume, gets the make-up, climbs aboard and rides the skirt on stage from which lots of little bonbon dancers emerge. Stephen joined the ranks of mayors, military men, coaches, educators, business leaders, athletes, singers and media personalities who have done the role over many years.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

No, No with Qualifications, No

On Austin's new commuter trains, you may not smoke or play your boom box. (Do people still carry those around? Perhaps to break dance in the aisles?) You may not eat or drink either unless the drink is in a spill-proof cup. Given my success with commuter cups there is just no such thing as a spill-proof one. I took this the other day when the train made a test visit to the Convention Center station.t

Friday, December 19, 2008

Urban Plateau

Some rooftop bars that extend to the alley behind Congress between Fourth and Fifth seem to create an urban plateau, especially with the weathered look of that wall.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Decor

This year the Christmas decor on Congress Avenue consists of thin strands of LED lights that change colors. I guess they save energy but even at night they don't seem very festive. On East Sixth (that's the Driskill on the left) some old school tinsel stars recognize the holiday. Meanwhile kilowatts and sanity are squandered in Zilker park at something we like to call the Trial of Lights. (It's really the Trail of Lights to its fans.) I suppose now that I live downtown I could walk to this attraction, but this time of year a traffic jam for going downtown always made us testy over this display.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stairway to the Sky

One downtown building, at Congress and Sixth Street hasn't really had a closeup although it's appeared in the skyline in some pictures like this one. This stair step office building, called One American Center and built in 1984, had a private athletic and dining club occupying a couple of floors in it that we joined in 1985. They closed in the bust of 2000, but belonging there was an excuse to come downtown in the morning or evening for a lot of years. We also threw a major party in this space and did some other minor entertaining over the years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Texas Decor

Another shot of Texas-themed decor at GSDM's Idea City. Here armadillos climb a cactus 'tree.' We showed others here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shiny New Train

I walked over to the convention center yesterday with the idle thought that I might go into the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. I bumped into Matt Curtis who works for Cap Metro and he said the train was pulling into the station about two o'clock. I hung around the bazaar and had a beer and listened to The Resentments and waited to see the shiny train. You, dear readers, had seen it from afar back in March when I caught the expensive train sitting out in a field, ahem, waiting its close up.

The train was beautiful, inside and out, and surely made me want to ride it except it doesn't go near anywhere I want to go. I'll still have to get in the car to tend to my elderly parents and play tennis. But maybe I'll ride it to Leander just to see what it's like and what my tax money has been spent on. Of course, the claim is that once you arrive at a train station you can take a bus to other areas. Of course, buses fan out from downtown to all sorts of locations so taking a train then a bus for us downtowners isn't very practical. But if you live in Leander you can drive (of course) to a train station and be downtown at the convention center in a short time. You won't need to take a bus from there to walk to lots of things, but the buses will be lined up to whisk you to your final destination conveniently. Or so they'd have you believe. The route of the train, by the way, was determined by existing freight tracks.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Irish Bar

The local newspaper (The Austin American-Statesman) recently did a comprehensive survey of bars. I guess in today's economic climate, surveying places to imbibe is timely. Anyway, the sheer size of the list amazed me and many were downtown, of course. I'm pretty sure that I will never set foot in 90 percent of them, but I have visited a few. This colorful joint, Mother Egan's Irish Pub, has hosted some events we've attended and serves up pints of Guinness and some good Irish grub. It's on West Sixth in a stretch with a number of other bars.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Incidental Decoration

This wall abuts a parking lot on West Sixth. It used to be used on the weekends as an Art Market and the wall might have been decorated then.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Wild, Wild Downtown

This picture shows a good growth of cacti with some downtown construction in the near distance. The thing is: this is growing on the roof of Whole Foods Market. I hadn't been on that roof until the other day when I went up there to get a picture of the ice skaters.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mexican Food Decor

The El Mercado on South First is a good place to eat and it takes Tex-Mex decor to giddy heights including this mosaic guitar player. The food is very good at this stop, too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

There it Is

Sunday night at the Hilton, the pre-event cocktail party was in an area west of the big ballroom and the tree near the windows near Fourth could be lined up with our building to create this photo. We are often able to merely point when people ask where it is we live.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dancing for the Kids

We went to a fun benefit last night at the Hilton. Austin has an organization called The Center for Child Protection and they have a building where all interviews and exams and immediate follow-up needs (clothing, new supplies for school, therapy, etc.) are handled for children who have been neglected or physically or sexually abused. Police, prosecutors and social workers come together at the center to make the child's experience less threatening and to avoid repeated interviews for the same incident.

With such a solemn mission they sure throw a wonderfully fun event to raise the money to support it. They get outstanding community leaders to volunteer to participate in a dance contest. Above you see our friend, Larry Connelly, philanthropist, PhD Educator and former elementary school principal, and his professional dance partner cutting a rug to the Pink Panther theme. It was great. All the participants were fun. Including Art Acevedo, Chief of Police. He was such a good sport! As was everyone involved. After the cocktails, auction, dance contest and dinner the audience was ready to rock out, too, and the dance floor filled with people showing their own moves. (A highlight of this was seeing former Ballet Austin dance Jim Stein doing a quick step.)

The event was at the Hilton. And, yes, we walked back and forth and I think people who used the valet were jealous.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Texas Christmas

The big ad agency on West Sixth Street, GSD&M, puts out some very Texas decorations for the season. The snowman, sunning, is apropos since we are unlikely to see snowmen that aren't big blow-up guys bought at the likesl of Home Depot. On the hobby horse is a (baby?) armadillo. I rarely see them alive but they are around judging from the road kill.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

If You Must Shop

People with certain kinds of investments are depending on the American consumer who has been somewhat absent this holiday season. I can't bring myself to encourage people to the usual holiday excess, but if you feel like getting gifts...think outside the box. Outside the 'big box' store that is. These hats were on display at Uncommon Objects recently. There are some cool choices for unusual goods, new and old, on South Congress.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Warehouse District...Above the Fray

The Warehouse District along Fourth Street (this is the block between Lavaca and Colorado) is a bustling area of cramped sidewalks and old tall loading docks and stairs that make a mockery of handicapped access but is 'grandfathered' and preserved as bars and businesses. This photo is shot from above at the Headliners Club atop the Chase building. The red building is Oil Can Harry's, a gay bar as long as I remember. The gap between the buildings on the nearest (north) side of the street is Cedar Street Courtyard which has a stage with live music most nights. (Fourth was, I believe, Cedar Street in the old named for tree scheme before numbers). Also along the street are Qua (a bar with a nautical theme and velvet ropes that I've never bothered with because I'm not in the beautiful set and don't pretend to be); 219 West (a nice place for drinks and snacks); Fado (an Irish place for Guinness and Shepherd's Pie); and Halcyon (a great place for coffee and sandwiches as well as alcoholic drinks).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

House in the Trees

When we went to the East Austin Studio Tour a couple of weekends ago, some artists sharing a house as a work space invited us to tour their backyard where they had this wonderful retreat in the trees. Tree house, no trees necessary.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Man in Black?

I guess this is Johnny Cash. The mural is on the side of Wahoo's Fish Tacos on San Antonio between Fifth and Sixth. (Pretty good food there, by the way.) It appeared one day and there is a small sign nearby taking credit for it. Can't remember the company. I'll have to walk by again and catch that. It hasn't attracted graffiti yet either. Not that it will. But it is fresh and new right now. I'm not quite sure why it's there but it's colorful (man in white, red, blue?) and I like it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Cold Outside!

Well, it's not really cold enough for winter sports, but Whole Foods Planet (my personal name for the world headquarters of same) has a roof and puts a tiny ice rink up there each winter. These folks were enjoying it Sunday when I climbed the steps to go up there. They have some cacti gardens, a tiny playscape, tables, etc. up there. I knew they had events 'on the roof' but had never been to one or just wandered up there. Now I know. On a pleasant day it might be a good place to go and eat your WF take out. It did struggle into the thirties today here so, if I went outside it would feel wintery, but I think I'll stay inside as it heads toward seventy.

Monday, December 1, 2008