Saturday, January 31, 2009

Boots Were Made For Walking

The Capitol Saddlery sign is still on Lavaca but the shop has moved north to Research (aka 183) according to a sign in the window. Which stretches the distance from the actual Capitol building which is about six blocks from this location. What was once a convenient location for Texas politicians and University professors to get boots made and repaired is now a little more out of the way for them. (I haven't seen it in its new location, by the way.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Castle Imitator

The castle-like building that gave Castle Hill its name is emulated in the crenelations on the shops on North Lamar. Besides the chain bagels, there is a health food shop and a fitness center (Castle Hill Fitness).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mean-Eyed Cat Holds Its Own

The Mean-Eyed Cat is a bar named for a Johnny Cash song run by Chris Marsh. Currently it is snuggled up against some new apartments going up (sign on left) which necessitated the temporary sign that says to potential patrons "we're still here!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bright Paint on Twelfth Street

It's cold today but I took this picture of these houses on Twelfth Street on a much more hospitable day. They are colorful and interesting. In the next block is Austin Community College which is housed in the old Austin High School building.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Someone To Watch Over Me

How long has this angel mannequin been sitting in a tree on South Lamar? Yesterday wasn't the first time I walked there. But it's the first time I noticed her there. She's in a tree on the east side of the street.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Downtown Living, Another Version

Old West Austin provides some alternative downtown living as we have seen here a few times before. This elaborately decorated house with its porches and decor is one way. If you don't think Austin has had a drought, refer to this lawn.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Color of Music

On the side of Cheapo Discs are interesting murals including this one of a fellow who reminds one of Louis Armstrong blowing a color trumpet with valves of primary colors. Take time to look at the murals when you shop for secondhand CDs and DVDs at the North Lamar store.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Red and Blue

In our building there is a new Italian coffee and spirits bar. They had an Italian scooter outside with their name on it, Blu, the other day. Apparently color is kind of a theme for places in the building. A wine bar, Mulberry, is decked in red. And a Royal Blue Grocery will move in soon.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Living ten floors up, one has to be forgiven for snapping sunrises now and then. This is the most dramatic one I've seen in a while. No touch up done. Nikon Coolpix 5900 with Scene: Dusk or Dawn. Note the Austonian's rise compared to here (when you could only see a crane).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jeffrey's Where Anyone Can Be There...

and anything can happen. We always see people we know (a friend was working on a grant proposal in the bar while sipping a Gibson and eating crispy oysters). And we always hear about famous patrons even if there aren't any celebrities that night. (Our waiter Johnny Guffey, above left, showed us an origami rocket ship folded by Richard Garriot who took the paper into space.) Sometimes strange things happen, too. The party celebrating a birthday nearby was talking about opening wine bottles with a knife so Johnny retrieved a large knife from the kitchen, a fresh bottle of champagne and one of the men at the table took it outside and gave it a whack at the seam below the cork and the bottle opened cleanly, breaking that top 'bulge' away. (Why you'd need to open a champagne in this old "sword strike" fashion I don't know unless the cork was well and truly stuck. Or you were 'just demonstrating!")

Jeffrey's is at 12th and West Lynn. We walked over. It's kind of a long and uphill walk. We took a cab home. If you are an Austinite or visit Austin, Jeffrey's is an expensive but wonderful restaurant.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cigar Store

This iconic liquor store shown here, also sells cigars. They have an Indian, too, although I never understood the relationship. Peace pipe? Tobacco?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pile of Junk or....

I have a weakness for found object (junk?) sculpture and collages and such. This appears to be a gentleman in a sombrero playing a bass drum. It is at El Arroyo, a venerable Mexican restaurant on West Fifth close to Mopac. (They barbecue their own chickens and make enchiladas and tacos and they are yummy.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Plastic Bag Art

Along the walk on the south side of our massive Whole Foods Market (on West Fifth) are art work circles made from discarded plastic bags.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Donn's Depot

At first glance it does look like a train depot with some cars on a siding, but the whole complex is a bar that has live music and dance floors. You saw the interior here. Donn's is on West Fifth.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mountains Greet You as You Go Downtown

On West Fifth (a main artery to downtown from the west since it's one-way east) there is an old lamp shop that has resisted the influx of new apartments and shops. They provide a nice bucolic mural of "purple mountains majesty" for people headed into the urban hustle-bustle.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cheapo Discs

If you are in Austin and decide to buy a CD or DVD and want to hunt down a used bargain...this is the place. Cheapo is on North Lamar (914 to be exact). It's not too far from Waterloo Records, an indie store selling the new stuff and having in house shows and such.

This building is famous (well, maybe not famous but in my history it looms large) for housing the first Whole Foods Market store. FFP and I shopped here back in the day. Shoal Creek flooded into this part of North Lamar a couple of times and the building used to have the high water marks painted on the north side but that is gone now. The building does have some interesting mural-style decoration, though, that I will show another day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Up Against the Wall

There is a wall in an alley off Baylor in Old West Austin that has all manner of found objects and different materials in it. Back in 2001 I'd taken some pictures of it and I wanted to see if it was still there. So on my Monday walk with my friend we walked down the alley and he shot this picture. It took me a while (and Google search on my old WEB site) to find the other pictures. But the wall hasn't changed much while a lot of other things have.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

View From Castle Hill

From Castle Hill you can see lots of places to live...The Nokonah is in the foreground, The Monarch Apartments are on the right and the 360 pokes up behind N0konah. Also visible are the Austin City Lofts, the high rise AMLI apartments, the Ashton apartments and the rising Austonian condos. There will be lots of people living downtown when all are finished and occupied. Some folks in Old West Austin will have a view of it all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Castle on a Hill

This castle-like building in Old West Austin has a simple crenelated top. That part of the downtown area is higher and this building gave its name to several business. There is still a Castle Hill Fitness, I think. There was a Castle Hill restaurant. It moved to West Fifth and still called itself Castle Hill until recently when it changed the name to Corazon at Castle Hill. But it's not really near the Castle or that hill especially. Just east of the Castle, atop the hill is an abandoned slab from a project that fizzled decades ago. My friend, who has friends who own a very nice house nearby that they rent out, says that some project was going to kick up again and it was going to involve the castle, too. Doubt it will get started until we are out of the trough of this business cycle. It think the building has been an office and a private home.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Always the Taco

There are myriad places to get tacos in Austin. I haven't tried this place but it is interesting that it's in this old train car. You will find this on West Fifth Street.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Up, Up and Away

There is what is apparently a workshop or studio behind Tapelenders around the 1100 block of W. Fifth. (What is apparently a driveway actually has a street name, Sayers.) I'd say, though it's a guess, that they make giant colorful foam things.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cupcakes are All the Rage

This is a relatively new shop on Burnet Road (near Phil's). We also have a cupcake trailer on South Congress (I assume it's still there). The trailer and the shop have the same name (and cupcake) so maybe it's a chain of cupcake shops. I wonder if there are other cupcake shops in Austin.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Playful Art

When I used to pay attention to toys, I remember a plastic articulated thing that was a bunch of curves attached together. It didn't seem to have a purpose other than to arrange the sections into your artistic vision. This art work next to a house just north of downtown recalls that toy, as if it had been made large, cut apart and mounted on plinths. I'll bet whoever lives and/or works in the house uses the art as a landmark ("it has a red curvy thing in the yard") much like I used a large red sculpture at an office building I worked in during the late eighties and early nineties as a way to help people find the building ("it's an upside down red check").

Thursday, January 8, 2009

House in Contrast

Literally across the street from the building I showed you yesterday is this house turned office. Since that tree to the right (west) of the house has lost its leaves, you can also see our condo building peeking through. I think the house is an office now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Deco Office

Not far from the heart of downtown is this wonderful deco office building. Tomorrow I will show you the house across the street. It is quite a contrast.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


This woman was writing on the clock that was later burned. People were encouraged to write resolutions on it. Maybe she was resolving to take her disabled dog on more outings. He seemed to be having a good time with his contraption to support his back legs.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Out for a Ride Downtown

Out for a leisurely stroll on New Year's Day, I noticed some unicycle riders going by. As I was snapping a picture someone said hello and it was some friends of mine, riding a bicycle built for two. Alternative transportation day, it was.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Japanese House

There is a very trendy sushi-based (fusion that begins with sushi and other traditional Japanese things) restaurant called Uchi that is headed by Tyson Cole who is a sushi master. We've been there several times but not recently. We can walk to it now because it is only at 801 S. Lamar. (Although the walking conditions on the north side of the river aren't great for that walk in the evening.) I had always heard that Uchi meant house because a waitperson there said so. (I know nothing about Japanese.) The restaurant, in spite of this trendy sign and the trendy food, is in an old house. Even their WEB site promotes this definition but a little looking online seems to indicate that it means 'interior of a house.' So come inside and dine. But a reservation is a good idea and not that easy to come by, I don't think.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Up and Down in the Park

A short walk from our building north takes you to Duncan Park, on either side of Ninth Street and bounded on the west by Shoal Creek. On the south side of Ninth is a BMX bike park shown here with very steep inclines to pedal over like the kid in the picture. I won't be doing that, but the kids are fun to watch.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tower to Burn

People crowd around the clock tower constructed on Auditorium Shores just to burn it down later in the evening on New Year's Eve. The 360 Condos are across the river. We stood on our balcony to watch it burn. People were encouraged to write 2009 resolutions on it. I wrote "To Burn More Slowly."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Picture of theYear 2008

I selected this one for the City Daily Photo Theme Day because I wanted something that included the Long Center, the 360 Condos (our building) and looked celebrative. These are the fireworks at the March opening of Long Center (the ring is lighted purple). The fireworks are reflected in our building (lower right corner).

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