Saturday, October 31, 2009

Starry Halloween

For the benefit of goblins worldwide, I thought that I'd post another pumpkin from the carving contest we displayed not long ago. Here is a true artistic effort--this local artist actually recreated the famous Van Gogh painting "Starry Night," (plus an ear in a nod to the painter), in the hour allotted. She did a fantastic job, I thought.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Peachicks Grow Up

On October 10, some friends visited Mayfield Park to take some pictures of the pea chicks and their albino peahen mom. We first saw them here after they hatched at Westwood Country Club across the street. Unfortunately, only three of the chicks made the trek 'home' to the park. However, those in the know say this is the first brood in years to have any chicks survive the hawks.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Art Gate

A driveway gate on Milton in South Austin is kind of a work of art.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Sometimes neighborhoods develop, over time, contrasting structures on adjacent lots. This cottage and its large infill neighbor are on on Monroe in South Austin. Somehow, it seems to work.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumping for Your Band

This is a detail of a wall on South Congress plastered with an ever-changing batch of posters for bands.

Monday, October 26, 2009

March of a Different Sort

Yesterday there was a march of the undead on Congress Avenue. It is in association with a zombie film festival (Dismember the Alamo) that comes on the heels of the Austin Film Festival (Oct.29-31). Not that AFF didn't have some undead movies of its own!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


A number of us were in line for yesterday for the Austin Film Festival when these protesters marched against capital punishment on Congress. The gentleman in the foreground was passing out stickers that said 'Democrat for Life.' Sounded a little ambiguous to us out of context but clear during the brief march. Good for these people for being against this punishment, but I hope they take their cause through the system to try to change our laws (in Texas it will probably have to be a Constitutional Amendment) instead of just doing an outcry against public officials administering our policy and juries and judges who impose the sentence.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Leslie is Recovering

The local homeless character Leslie (mentioned here for his appearance in a mural downtown) has been recovering from a head injury. We understand he's doing better and before a big UT game this burger bar (Doc's) on South Congress was cheering the team on. And Leslie.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Welcome Cutie Pie to the Neighborhood

One of the newest trailers in the SoCo neighborhood is Cutie Pie's weighing in with a tiny bright trailer selling tiny pies. The former nurse who owns the stand won a pie contest at the Driskill and decided to sell pies.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good Morning Sunrise

Here's a nice sunrise shot I took a couple of days ago. I like the way the buildings frame the colors of the sky. Living this high up in a condo tower gives you an interesting perspective on it all.

Soon, the Austonian (the tall building with the cranes) and the W Hotel (shorter and nearer to the camera) will be finished and people will start moving in. Photos like this will provide a nice look at the progress.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lakeview property

Here is a shot of Lake Austin we took from the home where we attended the pumpkin carving. Sometimes people who have never been to Texas are surprised when they see how many lakes and rivers we have in our terrain.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

40 years of muddy concerts - pumpkin-style

I couldn't resist posting this shot of the 1st place winner in the props category at the pumpkin carving contest we attended Sunday afternoon. Woodstock (1969) vs. Austin City Limits (2009). They actually used real mud from their yard in the pumpkin halves. I love Austin. (Tip: click on the photo to see all the detail.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Carving Madison Avenue

We went to a pumpkin carving contest at a magnificent home in the hills overlooking Lake Austin yesterday afternoon. Here is my entry, based on the character Don Draper in "Mad Men." I didn't win, but I did see some people writing mine down as one of their choices. Frankly, the competition was really intense. If we get invited back for next year, I'll have to step it up a notch. The 1st place winners in the "prop" category halved a large pumpkin--one half was filled with mud and little dolls playing in it. That half was labeled Woodstock. The other half was labeled ACL and had modern day concert-goers playing in, yep, mud. You get the picture. The 2nd place entry featured a play on "balloon boy" with a bunch of smaller pumpkins as the family, plus a silvery, filmy contraption suspended from a bent coat hanger. Great fun.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

South Austin Museum

Here is another shot from that opening at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture we attended on Friday. This outdoor display of the "Rogues' Gallery" of great Austin artists and a guy in a baseball cap with and untucked shirt and jeans checking it out captured the moment. As the saying goes, "No place else but Austin."

(By the way, I'm really liking the night shots you can take with an I-Phone.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

40 Years of Blood Sweat and Beers

Last night we viewed a 40-year retrospective of Bob"Daddy-O" Wade's artwork at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. The showing featured a concert. There were some notables in the crowd from the art, film and legal communities. Bob has a well-deserved national reputation for making large, whimiscal construction pieces. If you have ever driven past Carl's Corner on the way to Dallas, you'll remember his bulbous frogs playing guitars on top of the truck stop. Here you see an alligator on wheels made from Altoid tins. If you want to go by and see it for yourself, the display of his enjoyable work is up until Oct. 24. Location: 1516-B South Lamar.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chalow gets philosophical

I was digging through some old files and found this shot of our last little pup, Chalow. She loved to go on walks and pose for photo opps. Here she's sitting on a picnic table where someone painted "We live in a big zoo." When you listen to the news, you realize the accuracy of that statement.

No doubt, I do miss my dogs. We had one or two in various combinations, for 26 of the 33 years we have been married. After she died, we decided not to get another one. But they did add an interesting dimension to our lives.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Celebrity bartender last night

Last night, the Austin Film Festival hosted a party at Ruth's Chris Steak House in downtown Austin--a short walk from where we live. The celebrity tending bar was Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, shown here on the right. The lovely lady on the left is Wendy, Ruth's Chris' professional bartender.

Ms. Nicholson is probably best known for her role in "Fletch," where she played the love interest of, yes, Fletch. She has also been in episodes of Seinfeld, Law & Order, Sex and the City and Boston Public. Central Texans know her best as "Tyra's mom" in Friday Night Lights, the terrific series filmed here in our area.

Austin Film Festival got a lot of good pr out of the party. There is still time to sign up for the Festival and for the Film & Food party, possibly the best bargain in town. For $85, you get unlimited food from twenty top restaurants and open bars. 7-10 pm, Wed, Oct. 21 at The Driskill. 478-4795 or The auction will even have tickets to see American Idol and The Late Show with David Letterman. (Sorry, I had to get in a plug.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vietnamese Sandwiches

I took this picture in 2005 on North Lamar. I'm not sure if this sandwich shop is still there but the offerings were generous and tasty and affordable. I don't seem to be able to take pictures outside of downtown these days so I thought I'd dig through the archives for a picture further afield.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Paris Metro

This is a mural inside Chez Nous. I didn't have a picture at my fingertips and it's so foggy outside so I decided to revisit some older shots. The little restaurant evokes the Paris Metro in historic Montmarte with this mural. We hope to go back to Paris next year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

If We Don't Like Something We Have a Concert

Last night there were several concerts around Austin to benefit a group trying to return long-time DJs Larry Monroe and Paul Ray to local public radio station KUT after they were laid off. We went to Antone's where the lineup of blues was nothing short of amazing. This is a picture of Grammy winner blues man (and 'super harp') James Cotton (seated) blasting a tune. (Taken with iPhone by FFP.) I don't know what will happen with the fan dispute over the radio executive's decision. But this was a legendary concert. KUT should see if they can't harness this force for their own good. Someone, it might have been Jim Franklin, legendary poster artist who did some MC work, said "If we don't like something in Austin, we have a concert." There are worse recipes for peaceful coexistence. I usually think it's an empty phrase but some nights I think we really are the Live Music Capital.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Language Barrier

Suffice to say that Bimbo brand pastries are pitched to the Hispanic market (truck was in front of a Hispanic market in South Austin or, bodega if you will). I love the name and the little cheery bear.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Caught the Rain

Much work has gone on for the new Federal court house near us. FFP took this from our parking places. Since they are doing earthwork they were stymied by the steady rain yesterday morning and the site was too wet to work on in the afternoon including pretty deep water in the neat rectangle they have cut into the lot. They have actually made a lot of progress since this picture, particularly in removing the pilings underground from the unfinished building that was imploded in 2007.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bike Tools

I am taking a writing class for women taught by Dean Lofton. We are meeting in the Austin Arts and Music Partnership in South Austin. The group provides areas for various artists and Austin groups to work and meet in a large warehouse. The area where we worked on our writing (with just paper and pen) is used by the yellow bike project. Their tools, spare wheels and a tank top were neatly arrayed over the workbench. Yeah, the tank top. Don't know about that.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


There is a new place over on Colorado between Fourth and Fifth (where Starlite used to be for those playing along in the restaurant openings and closings). They call themselves Frank. I ate a hot dog there one day last week. Actually, it was a venison and jalapeno sausage on a bun with blueberry sauce and cheese. But they tout pork in this shout out on the window. I suppose the venison dog was a tasty friend. They also had root beer on tap. As it was lunch (and before my usual drinking hour) I had one and it was delicious.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes

Linda and I went out for a walk Monday morning. On the way back to our place, we came upon these abandoned shoes on Third near San Antonio. They symbolized the weekend. Our neighborhood was a key load-up/drop-off point for the Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park that happened Friday-Sunday. It rained during most of it, turning the concert site into a mudpit. Obviously, the owner of these shoes got off the shuttle bus and realized that they were so caked with dirt that they were beyond hope.

On Sunday night, we went down to our grocery store in the building and saw a family of four with mud up to their knees, trying to get it off on our sidewalk. The whole thing created a cleanup problem for our building and the environs. My next door neighbor told me that one of our elevators was full of mud Sunday night, too. You kind of wish that there could be a designated "washoff" area with soap and hoses in a parking lot when outdoor concerts get rained on like this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Not Stopping

Something we hear a lot, n0t surprisingly given the economic downturn, is how this project or that is stopping, has no more financing. About the W, it was said that they weren't going to build the original planned number of stories. However, they are working hard if this is so, including Sundays. We took this one from street level and you can see the skin taking shape. My guess is it will 'top out' (reach its intended height of thirty some stories) around the end of the year. Meanwhile, the garish green insulation reflects in the Frost Bank Tower.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lost in the Fog

It isn't raining this morning but, as the pilots say, 'the ceiling is low.' This picture would show you the top of the Austonian except it's lost in the fog. (See a recent picture here.) If you'd bought the penthouse and it was finished, you'd be in the clouds this morning. To refresh your memory, the closest building is AMLI on Second (actually stretches from 2nd to 3rd) and the construction in the next block is the W Hotel, Condos and Austin City Limits studio.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Killer Piranha

The signage for the Piranha Killer Sushi restaurant is pretty comical. It is a chain albeit a chain started in Texas. A sushi chain started in Arlington, TX yet. (That's a long way from the ocean, of course, and we aren't so close here in Austin either!) This spot is on San Jacinto between Second and Third next to Max's Wine Dive. We haven't been there yet.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Bar District

This old house has been turned into a funky bar called the Lustre Pearl. It is on Rainey Street in that area of east downtown that has been sprinkled with hip new condos and apartments (to join the venerable Villas and Towers of Town Lake). The stark and beautiful Mexican American Cultural Center was constructed there. Old houses and derelict business buildings have remained, most with 'for sale, zoned commercial' signs. We noticed on our walk Wednesday that another place called Clive will soon join the Lustre Pearl. We also noticed some other old houses that had applications to sell alcohol in the windows. (The permit process takes so long that it's the first thing that has to start, I guess.) It will be interesting to see where this new bar district goes. Will it attract people from the nearby living spaces and the Convention Center? Will Four Seasons patrons wander down to slum a bit from the Four Seasons bar and make record deals during SXSW? Will the bar flies crowd IHOP on Cesar Chavez after hours eating pancakes? It's interesting to see the dynamics of a micro-neighborhood change.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mural Saved, Detail

When the building occupied by Las Manitas and Tesoros Trading was torn down to make way for a hotel (which has yet to start because of the economy), I thought this mural was lost. I recorded it here. However, the mural was saved and placed along Third Street on that block. I've shown a detail here. Many times these murals are lost and only preserved through photos. This one was constructed and painted on wood so it was salvageable but it is also weathering as time goes by.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Contrast Old and New

That's the top of a fire training tower built in 1931. It was reconditioned in the '70's with a carillon added. It chimes the hours and plays songs during the Christmas holidays. It is dwarfed by the luxury apartment building the Ashton. The top of the Austonian peeks above that. This was taken from the trail around Lady Bird Lake. (Details about the old tower are on the Austin Fire Department history page.)

It's the first of the month and theme day in City Daily Photo Land. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants of the group in theme day.