Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Definitely Spring

Spring is underway in earnest in Austin. It will all too soon be a hot summer. Our friend Jackie took this at a Hike and Bike gazebo covered with wisteria.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Leading the Fashion Parade

I couldn't resist posting another shot from the dog fair we observed in our nearby park last weekend. Linda got this shot of a lady and her dog all decked out in their finery.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Bonnet for the Four-Footed Friend

There was a big event for dogs in Republic Park yesterday and this pooch seemed to be enjoying an Easter outfit.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Purple Anniversary

At Long Center's Second Birthday Party last night, the City Terrace came alive with purple (Long Center colors) as the sun went down. That's our building to the left of the ring pillar. The crane to the right is at the site of the federal courthouse construction. The unfinished W Hotel and Condos is at the far right. It lost one of its cranes this weekend. When we inaugurated the Long Center with the huge grand opening bash, our building wasn't occupied yet and the W and court house lots were vacant.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Store on SoCo

FFP is checking out this new store front on South Congress. It appears to have rugged clothing for men although the name seems to suggest something bolder to me. It joins Luther's on SoCo so that, along with Allen's Boots and several vintage stores, the male fashion sense ought to be well-served.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Weather is Fine and SXSW is Over

Doc's is a burger and beer joint on South Congress that claimed an old garage and body shop of the same name and turned the front into a large patio. Undoubtedly they did a good business during SXSW since they aren't far from the Continental Club, Hotel San Jose and Auditiorium Shores. But, as they say, it's time for the locals to take up their own positions with their mug of draft. Today promises to be the perfect day with only light wind and a high temperature in the mid-seventies. I plan to dine on a deck myself for lunch, overlooking an old quarry lake in northwest Austin.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Burrito Van

I didn't see it myself but I heard that during SXSW this van was driving around passing out some free TexMex. It was parked on Tuesday in front of the south location of Freebird's World Burrito just across the river on Congress. It is a small chain, but they fit nicely into Austin-style with this sort of promotion.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dogs alfresco

Yesterday's beautiful afternoon prompted Linda and me to take a walk down South Congress. While having a sip of coffee, I saw these red-headed ladies enjoying the sun with two fluffy dogs and took their photo with my iPhone.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Auditorium Shores at SXSW

Took this from our balcony during SXSW with our new 24X zoom Nikon P90 on a tripod. SXSW throws free outdoor shows on Auditorium Shores during the festival. Lots of people were taking advantage of it. In case they were feeling lucky, it appears that lottery tickets were being sold as well as hamburgers. This was taken on Friday, March 19. I left this one with a high enough resolution that if you were there you can click and try to pick yourself out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Soldiers on Duty

I showed you the new 'face' of our parking ticket dispensers here. But I have commented to some people how much they look like Lego soldiers or policemen standing guard. I took this a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend they were covered in orange as all the parking was reserved for buses and trucks for SXSW on this stretch of Fourth Street.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thunder Soul funk

This sax player doing a spirited solo is an alumnus of the fabulous Kashmere High School Stage Band. They were the subjects of a film called "Thunder Soul" which premiered at South by Southwest. The alums played a stunning concert at a venue across the street from our high rise last Monday. These kids of the seventies had their talents and dreams lifted up by their director Conrad Johnson, who died while the film was being made. A highlight of the kids' stint in the band was winning the top prize in a national contest held in Alabama.

Here is a bit from the website: "It was afros and pleated shirts; James Brown and Bootsy Collins. It was the ’70s, and an inner-city Houston high school was about to make history. Charismatic band leader, Conrad “Prof” Johnson would turn the school’s mediocre jazz band into a legendary funk powerhouse."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

SXSW Bluegrass

We were walking back from a SXSW film on East Sixth yesterday and passed this group of bluegrass musicians who had set up shop in front of a street barricade. I don't think that they were an organized band-- just some random guys who had happened to show up at one spot.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sunshine Station

At and around some SXSW locations some solar pumps popped up. They have batteries that are charged by a solar array 'roof' and are made to look like gas pumps. This one, near the fire station near the convention center, appears intended to charge electric bikes and some are actually locked to the bike stand and plugged in. One near Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar had a little desk and an outlet to charge your phone or gadget. I don't know if these will survive after the event, but they'd be a nice idea for a city to have although I'm not sure how cost effective. Also, solar arrays have become theft targets in large arrays that are fenced so I wonder how these would fare long-term. My friend Jackie took this. Her husband Steve is in the background in his electric wheelchair. They live downtown and he'd love a way to recharge if he exceeds his range. My way of recharging if I exceed my range walking is a coffee shop! Come to think of it, coffee shops are where people hunt around for outlets and recharge their gadgets, but 'on the grid.'

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Arthouse -- a Big Window on Congress Ave

Crews of workers are working at a furious pace to meet the construction deadline of mid-summer on the Arthouse in downtown Austin. This building was a dress shop when I was growing up. Here you see both the current state of the progress and a rendering of what the building will look like when done. I was facing north looking up Congress when I took this photo. The huge opening you see here is the double window that will face east towards Austin's "Main Street," Congress Avenue (that's to the right in the shot), and south.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bee in a Band

This happy bunch of band members took to Congress Avenue and the surrounding streets last Saturday. I think that they were celebrating the start of South by Southwest. Or more likely, they were doing their bit just for the heck of it. The trumpet player in the front row had a bee-like uniform on, but as you can see, most of them went with yellow and black as their color scheme.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Organized Graffiti

The avant-garde Arthouse musuem in downtown Austin is undergoing an exciting renovation on Congress. They engaged some artists to decorate their construction barrier with 'graffiti.'

Monday, March 15, 2010

Austin Landmarks in Lego

We've been 'working' hard at SXSW (film), but we haven't been to the convention center since Friday. In the interim Lego has put up a city with a bridge like the iconic Pennybacker over Lake Austin.

When I first posted this I failed to give credit to our friend Jackie for providing this picture.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Sons of Tucson " Promo on Wheels

Linda and I decided to go wander around SXSW (South By Southwest) central at the Convention Center yesterday. Outside, we saw these guys who are promoting a new TV show on FOX called "Sons of Tucson." Evidently, the show has to do with a slacker guy who lives in his car and is hired by some rich kids whose father is in jail. His task -- pretend to be their dad so that they can get enrolled in a school. OK, it's TV -- what can I say?

Glad to see South By (as it is known by locals) is getting so much press nationwide. I just popped up the LA Times site and they have a whole special link section. Living downtown, we can just walk to all the events. Yesterday, we saw two primo films-- "Cherry" and "The Good Heart." Both were totally engaging and had plenty of dramatic tension.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Texas Film Hall of Fame

We went to the presentations for the Texas Film Hall of Fame last night, a fundraiser for Austin Film Society and it's work in Texas film making. There were opportunities for celebrity photos of folks like Quentin Tarantino (who was given the Tom Mix Honorary Texan award) and Lukas Haas (who was inducted into the Hall of Fame and who has Texas roots but wasn't born here). But, no, I'm showing you the photos of some extraordinary (ordinary=not well know to the masses; extra=but really fun) people who came to the event. Mandy Dealey and her son Christopher were dressed in vintage Western. His jacket was autographed inside by some of Texas' great musicians (like Augie Meyer of the Texas Tornados) and was the coolest vintage Western jacket I've seen in a while. Mandy had on a vintage blanket-style jacket with Western emblems sew in. Mandy is a force in politics and non-profits in Austin and Christopher is a young man who I just met last night but, according to FFP, he is somewhat of a serial entrepreneur. With those looks and that jacket, he could be a movie star, I think. So I humbly present him and his mother instead of Thomas Hayden Church or Woody Harrelson (confession: I didn't actually see him but he was announced from the stage).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

City Daily Photo is Five

Today is the Fifth Anniversary of City Daily Photo started by Eric Tenin at Paris Daily Photo. To celebrate some of the blogs registered to the portal are doing a picture in their city with a 'Tenin look.' Anniversaries are times for reflection so here is my offering...a part of an art installation in a vacant shop window on Guadalupe. That's the back of FFP's head inside the 'O' and me shooting on the right. I had been considering how to honor Eric and I thought maybe the obvious overlap was reflections. I was surprised to see that his own offering for the anniversary was a reflection photo! You can use the portal to see how other blogs celebrated Eric. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


We attended an Oscar watching party Sunday. This gent showed up on the red carpet as the award himself. Slightly more scandalous was the gal who 'dressed' in the same outfit!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

One Man Band

When I went to the Farmer's Market Saturday the busker in residence was a one-man band. He was, at this moment, entertaining a tiny child.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Not squares, just dancing

I was walking through Butler Park Saturday morning and saw this group of people taking what looked like a square dancing class on top of a man-made hill. I took out my camera and got this photo of them with a couple of buildings on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake in the background.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Alice's Picnic

This installation at Sandy Beach Park near Cesar Chavez reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. What appears to be a lace tablecloth is actually made from metal. Sandy Beach Park is not really sandy...except for right here it appears to have been planted with something to hold the ground. It's not really a beach either as it is separated from Lady Bird Lake by a busy street and the hike and bike trail. It's not much of a park either as it is sort of hard to access currently I had to tromp in weeds along the veloway where only bikes are allowed on the nice surface and then walk through some sandy mud. I'm guessing this is an elaborate art installation (with some usefulness for an urban picnic) and that the park will be more fully developed when the nearby apartments are finished and the pedestrian bridge is extended to land here. I'd been driving by this for a while and found it puzzling. Walking over there didn't reveal much more about it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


While we were waiting on Fourth Street for the rally the other day, I noticed the beautiful wheel and fender on this Jag. I guess if you win the Mega Millions we were talking about yesterday that you could buy a fancy car. I wouldn't, though. I'm glad just now that I don't own Toyotas but, instead, their brethren (with fewer current recalls) Hondas. In fact, if I had the money to buy this car...I'd hire a driver for a year or two!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Get Rich Quick

From our apartment and, in fact, from FFP's usual reading and watching TV chair, we can see the billboard across the river announcing the Mega Millions payout. When I shot this picture it was at 68 million (I think it's wise to consider you'd get around a quarter of that on cash payout and after taxes). It is 133 now, I think. It always resets to one digit before we get around to buying a ticket. I think we have a Texas only lottery and another multi-state participation (Power Ball?) but I think you can see that I don't follow the gambling opportunities too assiduously. But we are always being reminded of Mega Millions.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Arthouse takes shape

Linda and I were walking to a breakfast event downtown yesterday around 7:15. As we passed on the other side of Congress Avenue, I took this shot of the continuing construction on this exciting space -- Arthouse at the Jones Center -- on Austin's main street. (Two days ago, I featured the roof.) Completion is set for late June. The big corner space upstairs which looks empty right now will be glassed in and a key architectural element. The random vertical slots in the side wall will be filled with green glass "bricks" which will be lit so that they'll shine at night. On the roof, there will be a movie theater and party space. Here is a link to the blog which I update weekly.

It's interesting for me to remember how, when I was a kid, this space used to be "Lerner Shop," a dress store. How time changes things.

By the way-- if you click on the photo and get the enlarged version, you'll see a rendering above the covered construction walk which shows the finished look of the building.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rally View

City Hall Plaza is the place where lots of rallies and concerts occur. This view, looking east across the plaza during the rally against hate on Saturday, shows buildings we are familiar with from other pictures. The Austonian and Ashton are nearer and dominate the view. The Frost Bank tower barely seems to poke up its head, but it looks tall from other angles as we know.The limestone blocks people are sitting on are both decoration and barriers for security.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rooftop theatre in the making

I'm currently doing a construction blog with weekly updates for The Arthouse at Jones Center in the heart of downtown Austin--7th and Congress Ave to be exact. This is a shot of the roof taken last week. When this space is finished mid-summer, it will be a party area, where guests can view art films and have refreshments. I always have a good time watching buildings taking shape.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Youngsters Against Hate

Linda and I participated in an anti-hate parade in our downtown neighborhood Saturday afternoon. The event was spurred by a savage attack on two gay men walking to the City Hall parking garage from a bar after a softball celebration. Over 1500 of us marched from the bar on 4th Street to the City Hall Plaza where we heard speeches from City Council members and the two victims, among others. This cute little girl, her brother and their dog were part of the march. One rumor going around town: surveillance tapes showed that a woman, heading home from Carnaval in heels and a feathered costume, jumped into the fray and helped defend the guys who were being beaten.