Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yet more jazz

OK, we do other things besides going out to hear great jazz--but most of the stuff we do really doesn't lend itself to interesting photos.

Here you see a recent set at The Elephant Room. What a quintet -- Jeff Lofton on trumpet, Alex Coke on reeds, Dr. James Polk on piano, Michael Stevens on bass and Masumi Jones on drums. (At the point I snapped this one, Jeff was offstage while Alex took the lead and it was impossible to get James in the shot.) The whole group was quite a rainbow coalition-- three African-American men, an Asian woman and a white guy.

With that kind of talent on stage, the place filled up in a hurry. Each of these musicians has a following. In fact, by the time the first set started, there was a line up the stairs and people were having to wait until seats freed up to get inside. (We got there an hour early to secure a front row spot.)

Just another reason why we love living downtown. When we were on Shoal Creek, it was always, "Do we feel like driving down there, finding a place to park, one of us can't drink, etc."

By the way, I think you can see why I always laugh when people say that jazz doesn't draw a crowd in Austin. Oh-- and tonight, we'll be setting up shop in the lounge at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to hear the Jeff Lofton Trio and ring in the new year. If anyone is downtown, drop by and say Happy New Year!

Shot with my iPhone.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nice Ride

Don't know if it was someone's present but this car was sitting in front of Jo's Coffee on South Congress the day after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lakeside view

Yesterday, I went to our club to work out and have lunch. As I was leaving, I noticed a couple in a small boat fishing (they are in the middle here). Since my iPhone was handy, I whipped it out and took this shot. I thought maybe our compatriots on these boards would like to see a photo from sunny Austin. The weather-casters are predicting snow for us today, though. From the looks of things outside, I doubt it will happen.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Crepes Trailer

This trailer is on South Congress and it sells sweet and savory filled crêpes. The 'mille' in the name means thousand. I think there are 'mille crêpes' desserts in France that are made with many layers of the thin pancakes with sweet fillings but maybe this establishment was just hoping to sell its product by the thousands. We haven't tasted because we seem to spend fewer and fewer meals eating out of trailers. Have to try is some time, though.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I've Been Adopted!

On Saturday there was a mobile adoption station on South Congress. Word was: this fellow found a home.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reflection in the Lake

FFP shot this a couple of afternoons ago from the pedestrian bridge showing our building apparently casting light into Lady Bird Lake. That's the Monarch apartments on the left.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas

No snow in Austin...although much of the rest of the U.S. has seen a few (or many) flakes. But the shop window of the downtown St. Bernard store gave the impression of a snowy wonderland and the clothes for it. It was really windy and cold when I snapped this yesterday, for Austin anyway. Gusts of over 40 MPH around our building I'd say.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Goodbye, Mother Ginger. It was sweet.

Rich Segal, meteorologist and weathercaster for Time Warner News 8, was Mother Ginger for the last performance of "The Nutcracker" yesterday. He did a great job. Here we see him atop the Mother Ginger dress getting ready to be wheeled onstage. The children lined up to go under the dress are the Bon Bons. Being backstage at "The Nutcracker" is a big part of my holiday experience and I'm always a little sad to see the last curtain come down. I'm 63, but I guess I'm a kid at heart.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sara Hickman does Mother Ginger

As long as it's the season, I thought I'd throw in one more Mother Ginger shot. Here is my friend, well-known singer Sara Hickman all done up in her costume before the second act of "The Nutcracker." I took this photo Monday night while she was getting ready for her big role. Talk about a natural performer-- this woman was born to be on stage--and she is one of the most genuine, kind, warm-hearted souls you'll ever meet.

Like I said the other day, I've had a great time recruiting the VIP Mother Gingers since 1997-- it's hard to believe we've been doing it this long. Cookie Ruiz, the Executive Director of Ballet Austin, gave me the task back then and I'm grateful she had that much faith in me. It's always fun to watch VIPs get made up and have some fun.
And it makes my holiday season anything but boring.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Backstage at the Nutcracker

I was backstage at Ballet Austin's "The Nutcracker" last night and saw this tableau of dancers watching two of their colleagues performing as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier.

The lighting looked like it might be interesting, so I took out my iPhone and snapped this shot. Just using available light, it came out with a painterly feel.

Sara Hickman did Mother Ginger last night, by the way. She was terrific.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A warm room

Not long ago, we went out on a Saturday morning walk through west Austin. On the way back to our place, we went into Fortney's, a store that specializes in unusal objects and antiques. They had this bedroom display in their shop made up in a Southwestern scheme, complete with a wrought iron bed, leather quilt and pillows, carved wooden furniture and nature-oriented art. Not our style, but charming. Shot with my iPhone.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cool Cruises

The weather is awful in other parts of the U.S. but ours has been for the most part cool and delightful with a little fog and a little sunshine. Last Sunday on the Pfluger Bridge I captured some hardy folks taking a cool cruise on the Capital Cruises boat on Lady Bird Lake. Taken with iPhone.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Village

We went to a Christmas party last night where several very large tables held a miniature snowy village with three churches, shops, homes. It was all lit up and decorated for the holidays. Lots of work. This is only about a third of the village. The owner said that after this season it was all going to his children.

Taken with an iPhone in available light.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our nod to Christmas decorating

We've never been into having real trees for Christmas-- but Linda went to the trouble of carrying a huge container of bendable Santas and other little guys up from the storage unit a few days ago. I found this tree in it and put it on our counter. Hey, it's pretty festive!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The grackles are coming!

Here's a shot I took at twilight a few nights ago. For some reason, flocks of grackles seem to like alighting on the top level of the parking garage across the street from our condo tower. They remind me of that Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Upward bound

I was walking back from errands Tuesday morning and had my camera on me, so I shot this photo of our neighborhood. (I was about a half block north of our home, the 360.) In the foreground, you see big equipment for the site work on the new federal courthouse. The building in the middle with two cranes poking out of it is the W Hotel, which is just about topped out. The tall building to the left is the Austonian (56 stories), which will be ready for move in around mid-2010. We'll be glad when we get a lot of new neighbors in these buildings.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Something Missing

A deer with part of its rack missing was browsing for tasty goodies in my Dad's backyard the other day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Coach Ginger

I was attending to my backstage duties at Ballet Austin's Nutcracker performance yesterday. Since 1997 when we started the program, I've recruited the celebrity Mother Gingers. These good sports (who have included Michael Dell, Lance Armstrong, Ann Richards, Kay Bailey Hutchison, E.D. Hill from Fox News, Augie Garrido, Ray Benson, Marcia Ball, Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, John Paul DeJoria, and Kinky Friedman, among many others) get made up and are rolled onstage atop a huge red and white dress.

Yesterday's VIP Mother Ginger was UT women's basketball coach Gail Goestenkors. She was very gracious and friendly backstage and she got a lot of laughs out of the whole experience. Here's a shot I took of her in the costume before she went out in the second act.

Hook 'em!

By the way-- if you'd like to see The Nutcracker, performances are happening until Dec. 23rd. For more information, click the Ballet Austin link.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jazz at Ruth's Chris

Linda and I took a much needed-break last night and had some wine and food with good friends at Ruth's Chris Steak House on West Sixth. Our friend Jeff Lofton with his trio was playing some terrific jazz. We were entertained all night by a constant parade of Santas-- male and female -- who were striding by the windows behind Jeff. Perhaps there was a party somewhere that required the guests to be dressed up like Santa Claus, but we never got a straight story about it. I shot this photo with my iPhone from my comfy front row chair.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

When the cat's away. . .

Linda and I got a backstage look at Ballet Austin's "The Nutcracker" last night. Here are some of the mice who visited us in the Green Room before their big foray onto the stage at the Long Center. Sarah and Ernest Butler are in the background, center. They made the naming donation for the Ballet's new home (The Butler Dance Education Center). It's a great time of the year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Front of the Mean-Eyed Cat

Seems we'd danced all around it but not really ever shown the front of the Mean-Eyed Cat. And this view seems important to represent its 'landmark look' status amidst the apartments and office buildings.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adaptive Reuse

At the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture what was once a car serves admirably as a planter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Party Favors

We went to a cool party last week. Milk & Honey, a fine local salon and spa, was dishing out free chair massages and manicures. Now that's what I call treating your guests right!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'll be good! I promise!

I did some South Congress (SoCo) shopping a couple of weekends ago and walked past the cages where an animal rescue outfit keeps dogs who need a home. This one was so cute--he was making eyes at people, tyring to find someone who would take him home.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The robots are coming!

A couple of weekends ago, there was an unusual display at the Farmer's Market a block from our building. Some youngsters from the local science magnet high school were showing off their robot creations. One of the inventions had been to a national competition. Oh to be that young and that smart.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Big Twelve Champions

The University of Texas eked out a win over Nebraska last night to win the Big Twelve Championship. The UT Tower was solid orange for a conference champtionship and had '09 spelled out. Thanks to our friend Jackie for snapping this picture which I cropped a bit so you could get the effect.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reserved Parking

At the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture there is some reserved parking. I wouldn't take this guy's spot.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Grilling Chicken

This handsome fellow is grilling chicken behind El Arroyo (The Ditch) on W. Fifth Street. The succulent meat goes into several favorite is BBQ chicken enchiladas.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We went to a party last night and these young guys who work for a local costume shop showed up looking like characters out of a Dickens novel. It's a fun time of the year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Old Bar in a New Setting

The venerable Mean-Eyed Cat bar survived the construction of an office building on one side and an apartment/retail complex on the other. It's now incorporated into the latter with nice landscaping. It would be easy to miss the mural on the south wall if you weren't afoot as we were on Sunday, walking from our place down W. Fifth almost to Mopac. It was too early for the bar's 2PM opening so we opted for BBQ chicken enchiladas across the street at El Arroyo. The bar is run by Chris Marsh and we featured a nice portrait of him here on Austin, Texas Daily Photo quite some time ago.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Waiting to Play

We have lots of live music in Austin. And bands spend a lot of time waiting for the gig to begin. Depending on their instrument they occupy themselves with visiting and setting up and tuning...or, in this singer's case, just waiting. FFP shot this of Megan Blue and the Sugar Daddies waiting to play in the Farmer's Market on Saturday. (See inset of the Live Music blackboard announcing them from 10-11:30.)

Today is the first of the month and, in the tradition of the City Daily Photo family, it's a theme day. Lots of blogs are participating in this month's theme, "waiting." Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

Next month the City Daily Photo theme day will be moved to January 15 and blogs that participate will choose their favorite picture on the year and reprise it. Do you have a favorite from our blog?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Camptown Ponies

These three excellent musicians were playing on South Congress Saturday afternoon for some public relations and spare change. They were fantastic, by the way. I love it when you come upon real talent. The guitar player told me that the three of them were from two different bands so they combined their names to be "Camptown Ponies." She said that they would be playing at a club on N. Loop Sunday night. I signed up for their e-mail list, so I hope that I'll get to catch their act again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eerie Sunset

Sunset after the apocalypse? My friend Jackie took this from her AMLI on Second apartment of the sunset. Note reflection in the lake. The water tower (near lower right corner) at the Green Water treatment was still upright, but not much of the buildings around are in the picture (save a corner of the Silicon Labs building). Not only did they take the tower down...somehow they have now removed it from the site. Wish I seen that.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Buying local

Here's a shot of the Ave B Grocery, which has been in business since 1906, so I understand. We haven't been by there lately, since it's in Hyde Park, close to our old neighborhood. I assume it's still operating. Anyway, if it is, they have great sandwiches and lots of varieties of root beer.

Friday, November 27, 2009

'Tis The Season

I am not in a very festive mood this year, but we have season tickets to Ballet Austin's performances and when the time for the annual production of "The Nutcracker" arrives the music, the snowflakes and the dreamy dancing will put me in the mood. Meanwhile Ballet Austin's Butler Dance Education Center has turned the normally clear glass of the Armstrong-Connelly Studio into a snowy fantasy for the season to promote the production.

Taken with my iPhone.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Austin's growing up

OK, so this isn't the best shot I've ever taken, but I was on a nighttime wine cruise on Lady Bird Lake and I only had my iPhone with me. But each time I look at our 2009 skyline, it makes me realize how big Austin has become. It looks especially dramatic at night. Anyway, happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dogs like Farmers Market, too!

One of my favorite things about the Farmers Market that happens each Saturday morning a block away from us is getting to see the pretty dogs people bring along. Here is Winston, a poodle I met a couple of weeks ago.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Floral patterns

I had my camera handy and shot this photo of cut flowers in our grocery downstairs not long ago. Having so much good food (including a deli), liquid refreshments and visual treats like flowers available at all times is one of the best reasons for living where we do.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What a view for a football game

A friend got tickets for the Centennial Club at The University of Texas' DKR Memorial Stadium Saturday night. He had a spare and invited me along. The game was against Kansas. I've got to say, this is best way to enjoy a football game--friends, food, and liquid refreshment, in a comfy seat and protected from the elements. Our assigned seats were on the 45 yard line, no less.

Here you see the Longhorn Band in their halftime show. Took me back to my days in the band in the mid sixties. Over forty years and somehow, it doesn't seem that long ago at all.

I could get used to this!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Aliens Have Landed

Not Really. But they did fell the old water tower at the Green Water Treatment Plant that's being decomissioned a block from us. I'm not sure it was supposed to fall on those sewer tiles and, sadly, we didn't see it come down. Here is a picture from way back there when it was still upright.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jazz Masters Play Nightly

One of the nicest things about the smoking ban is that it allows people like Linda and me, who used to come home with headaches and smoke filled nostrils, to go to places like the Elephant Room -- Austin's home for jazz -- and be comfortable.

Here is a photo I shot a few weeks ago of Alex Coke on flute and Jeff Lofton on trumpet. I shot it with my iPhone which kind of gives it a subdued look and feel.

Friday, November 20, 2009

UT Football tomorrow

FFP took this back in September at the first home game. Tomorrow is the last home game (I think) and he hopes to be there again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shapes of Shops

When we are on South Congress, we usually are in front of the shops on the west side but one day last month I took pictures from the other side and noticed the pleasant shapes and colors on these two hip clothing stores.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The new face of downtown

I was out in the neighborhood doing errands on foot yesterday and walked by the base of the Austonian, the 56-story condo tower on Congress Avenue.

I couldn't help but whip out my iPhone and take this shot. It's amazing to this Austin native how tall our town has grown. (The horizontal shape at the top is a construction crane that is still being used on the job.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Out of the Blue

One of the coolest things about the Farmers' Market that happens on Saturdays a block from our condo tower is the inclusion of a band concert. Here is the group which appeared last Saturday-- "Out of the Blue." (Referring, I suppose, to their modality of stretching the limits of bluegrass.) They were playing some really nice tunes and had the crowd in a good mood.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jazz to lift the spirits!

We attended a great jazz performance at St. James Episcopal Church (Jazz at St. James) Saturday night. Here you see sax player Joe Morales (played with the Texas Tornadoes among others) leading his sextet. He gave a truly impassioned performance and left the crowd cheering him. Here you see Matt Smith on guitar and Aaron Lack on vibes. His drummer Ernie Durawa is a Texas legend and has played on Saturday Night Live and at President Clinton's inauguration.

His act was followed by nationally-known Javon Jackson and his own band of all-stars. This photo was shot with my iPhone in available light, so it's not the sharpest--but I think it captures the mood.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

One block to the Farmers' Market

It tickles me when people ask us "How do you get your groceries?" since our move downtown. Well, besides the grocery in our own building and the Whole Foods about five minutes away on foot, the local Farmers' Market happens each Saturday, one block away. (There is a large mainstream grocery on Lake Austin Blvd, too.) And we always see a lot of friends shopping there. A very small town feel in the heart of the city.

This young lady from Orange Blossom Farms had some delicious tangerines for sale yesterday. They really are good.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dethklok rocks, I guess

I had to be told about this band. Dethklok is a fictional death metal group featured in the Adult Swim animated program Metalocalypse. There is also a "virtual" band of real guys performing in places like the Austin Music Hall across the street from us. Here is the band's bus, which has a pretty amazing paint job. They had a concert Friday night--we enjoyed some good wine and food at Mulberry while the audience was streaming out of the hall. (Why is the "virtual" band the one with flesh and blood players? Reality and fiction seem to be confused here.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Up on the roof

I am now doing weekly entries on a construction blog for Arthouse at Jones Center, (go to this link and then click on my name on the left-hand column), a contemporary art space at 7th and Congress, in the heart of downtown Austin.

The other day, I clambered up onto the roof and took this shot.

Take one last long look at the way it looks now. The workers are ready to start prepping for laying down the concrete masonry units. These cinder blocks will underpin the nearly 5 feet of additional height above the existing roof upon which the new rooftop deck will be built. When done, the roof will be a showplace for outdoor movies (a large screen will be up there) and parties.

By the way, this edifice was constructed in 1851 and was the first three-story brick building in Austin. It has been, among other things, a drug store, a law office, a movie theater and a dress shop.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sports Hubris

On Lake Austin there is a property that appears to have its own baseball diamond. I think that's a tennis court on the left. Surely this isn't a private home! I always thought it would be great to have your own tennis court but they require a lot of space. But a baseball diamond?