Showing posts with label Austin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Austin. Show all posts

Monday, February 06, 2023

Ice Like a Hurricane

We just had a few days of weather here in Austin, Texas.  It's left the city a wreck.  Again.

To understand what happened, my memory of the days as they unfolded went a bit like this:  

Around Saturday January 28th, we knew we were getting a cold front and that the oddly warm weeks of January we'd been experiencing would soon end  (the 28th had a high around 60, but we'd seen the 70's several times during the month).  On Sunday the 29th, suddenly the "it'll be cold and just over freezing, and it will rain" forecast we'd been hearing changed.  Suddenly we were to expect freezing temps, rain and ice.  

I work from home these days, and I didn't think much of it.  It sounded like a pain, but this wasn't the same as the multi-day freeze in the teens and 20's we experienced in February 2021 that took out the city and led to PTSD for almost all of us who sat in the dark, trapped in our houses for days, wondering if we'd die in our own homes.  This would be 24-48 hours of nasty cold and some wet and then we'd be back to normal temps.  We do this every other year or so.

But then on Monday the schools started closing early and planning closings on Tuesday and Wednesday.  

What happened, starting Monday evening and through Wednesday, was that Austin received a tremendous amount of rain, ice, grapple and other precipitation and the temps fell below freezing.  My own measurements tell me we got something like 2.5 inches of moisture.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The League Goes to Austin FC's first Play-Off Match

Sunday, October 16th, I attended my first Austin FC match at Q2 Stadium here in sunny Austin, Texas.  

This was a somewhat unlikely event.  I've tried many times to get into soccer, but it never really worked for me.  European leagues play on European time, and I don't speak Spanish to keep up with the best soccer in my hemisphere.  And, honestly, cable has usually done a terrible job of covering MLS, the US's soccer equivalent of the NBA or MLB.  Over the years I was more interested in the US Women's National Team - because of the best sports-watching moments of my life is and always will be Brandi Chastain's penalty kick in the 1999 FIFA World Cup (yeah, the one that ended with Chastain whipping off her jersey).  That moment made a 24-year-old me cry.

Anyway, I was astoundingly skeptical of Austin taking on an MLS team.  It was originally pitched very badly by the owners looking to move here,  They made some weird moves along the way - like trying to just say they were going to build their stadium on highly utilized public land in incredibly dense areas of town, something not agreed upon by City Council or anyone else.  It would have created innumerable issues from traffic to environmental, and was kind of ugly and brazen, demonstrating they did not know Austin and did not share the values of Austinites.  

You don't just drop a massive stadium on Town Lake and think no one will notice.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Meth & Comics, Admiral in Africa, Desertification of Austin

Superman would punch you in the face for that

It appears that some losers in Denver were using a collectible comic business as a front for trafficking drugs and laundering the dough. I don't know. It's all shady, and the fact that these guys were most likely using comics about costumed do-gooders to do bad is upsetting, but not quite as upsetting as the rest of what they were up to.

Here's a blog post from the Denver paper.

I don't expect drug dealers to be classy folks, but what is it with meth? Everyone involved with meth always looks like 20 miles of bad road and they do such weird stuff.

Leaguers, Superman would not approve.

The thing is, these guys could have legally been trafficking in iffy merchandise with the whole vintage comics business and done just fine. The fuzz seized hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of comics in this deal. Why not just take advantage of the nerds on eBay and live the good life with the comic business you've got?

Now all these great comics are off the market and entered as evidence. And that's just wrong...

The Admiral in Africa

Got my first e-mail from The Old Man, as he globe trots once again. He's apparently shaking down folks in Nigeria this week.

Sounds like he's got plenty of folks around him that know how to use a gun, which is kind of kooky. Mostly he's freaked out by the lack of discipline when it comes to traffic, which sounds exactly like him.

The Admiral in African urban sprawl doesn't equate in my head, but I guess he's doing okay.

Monsoon Season?

It's hot in Austin this summer, and has been since June 1. We've had record breaking temperatures both in how high the mercury is rising and the sheer duration of the period of 100+ days.

I had beers last week with some folks I don't know, but they work in environmentally friendly landscaping. They mentioned that Austin is being re-zoned as being more "deserty", and one of these folks wasn't a transplant but a lifelong Austinite. She's seeing the changes, too.

Anyway, two days in a row isn't a pattern, exactly. But the past two days, in the hour before sunset, we've had rain. In Arizona (which I think we can all agree is a hot desert) in late summer, they have something called Monsoon season. Right around sunset, rain would blow in from the east. I guess it was some mix of wet air from that gulf east of the Baja Peninsula and the hot, still air that had been hanging around all day.

Again, its just been two days of similar weather, but its starting to freak me out a little...

Monday, July 06, 2009

OH MY GOD: Speidi plus Alex Jones = The greatest thing I've ever seen


Oh wow.

Cavender had this on Facebook.

"The Hills" stars, Heidi and Spencer, have apparently decided to join up with local Austin-area conspiracy/ ultra-libertarian guy, Alex Jones.

Alex was a local legend (still is, I guess) who was on Austin Access Cable about 10 hours a day while I was in college and until I moved on 2002. Right about then he got on the radio, and his show was being listened to outside of Austin on the internet. These days he has a TV show off of Access, I think. His reach is now international.

If you want to know who one of the major voices was behind the 9/11 conspiracy stuff, look no further. First time anyone saw inside The Bohemian Grove and put the footage on TV? Here you go.

Now, Alex DID figure out the US Military was conducting illegal training in East Austin in the mid-1990's, spraying an unknown white powder on the neighborhoods, etc... And all of it was confirmed. Which, you have to imagine, is sort of like finding out that the guy who tells you the UFO's are trying to control his mind is RIGHT. But there you had it.

Jones is an interesting guy, partially because he does, in fact, occasionally dig up real dirt. Just enough to give him some semblance of credibility. And I wouldn't trade his brand of anti-establishment for the world (even if I often think he should probably think about more logical conclusions rather than assuming the Illuminati are behind everything).

But now he's got SPEIDI. His power KNOWS NO BOUNDS.

It would help if he knew who Spencer and Heidi actually are, but whatever.


Monday, April 27, 2009

6th and Lamar

This weekend I watched "Slacker", the circa 1990 movie from Richard Linklater that more or less made the Austin film scene.

From the opening scene, its clear its an Austin that many in the town today will have found plowed under and turned into condos. Even the opening shot, looking out the window of a bus headed north on I-35 at dawn passes the location of what was Robert Mueller Airport, where today we have tract housing, Best Buy and a sea of chain retail. I think the only thing still standing and the same today in the extended shot is the McDonald's at Capital Plaza.

As a movie and cultural artifact, Slacker is a curious item to watch. I've come to have more personal feelings on the thing than I usually associate with a movie. Its a time capsule from an era of my youth when I was coming of age. Its a time capsule from a period in Austin that most of the people I know in Austin don't recall, or weren't in town for yet. It may also be responsible for some of the image making of Austin, which has led to the flood of people into Austin, which, in turn, has greatly changed Austin. In some ways for the better, and in many ways...

There's a scene about thirty minutes into the movie where a guy is buying a newspaper (a USA Today, I think) and he's at the GM Steakhouse, and the horizon is flat. The high rises of the intersection aren't even imagined yet. Traffic on Lamar is moving fast headed south. There's an auto dealer, Charles Coffey Motors, I think, that had been there for decades.

Today, Les Amis is gone. That whole area has been bought by real estate developers and they put in a Smoothie King and a Panda Express.

The entire film is, in so many ways, the same rush of sense memory you get when you step into your parents' house after being away too long. Or, perhaps even more, when something smells exactly how your grandparents' basement smelled, a place you would have to dig deep to recall when was the last time you spent time there.

Sure enough, time goes by. The town has always been transitory to an extent, memories are short. And those places were houses and other things that people may have lived in before I was imprinting on them as record stores and cigarette shops. Time waits for nobody, but that doesn't mean, I think, you can't be nostalgic. Or that you can't feel a bit of melancholy that time has marched on, especially when you wonder how you suddenly got so old.

Intentional or unintentional, there's something to the young faces of the film living in the old, unpolished parts of the city. In houses left over from grander eras, walking past the burnt out and unused warehouses that once made up several blocks of Austin (and which, from what I've read, on that land may have been brothels and bars before the warehouses took up the space).

Seeing people as I remember them from that era, not as how they appeared on TV from studios, or how they looked in catalogs, or taking their fashion cues from either. Texas accents. All that. It makes it tough to separate nostalgia (and what was at the time, recongnition) from any objective viewing of the film.

The content of the film, is, of course, the 2:00 AM-over-a-beer academic discussions of the 20-something quasi or pseudo intellectual, that rarely appeal to or fit in with the hours available in a life once you've rolled into a job, paying taxes, etc... Even when or if you fundamentally still agree or find yourself arguing with 20-something you. Its distended out to two hours, and at times its a bit much, and at times you want to slap the characters, but its also still a bit like slowing down and listening as you walk across campus. Students will always be students, and Linklater was just out of school (or maybe still in?) when he was working on Slacker.

And that's not going to do a lot for a lot of people. And I appreciate that. Or, I guess, I am aware of that. And the undercurrent of anarchy that's romanticized will drive some nuts. But, as I said, its a time capsule. And its not indicative of many people's time in this town, even lifelong residents.

My favorite scene is still that of the old revolutionary/ anarchist who takes a liking to the young man pointing a gun at him. That's going to be Jason in 30 years, so help me.

Admittedly, at one point, I was fairly certain that was pretty much what I'd be doing in my mid-20's (I was about 15 or 16 when I saw the movie the first time), and had I not jumped in that taxi, who knows where I would have diverged and seen this life as a dream, right? One does not work towards a history and film degree because one's life's plans are centered around financial security, 2 kids and a house in the burbs. It wasn't so much an aspiration as much as what seemed like a likely trajectory when you really have no clue what you're going to do with yourself beyond your 21st birthday.

Anyhow, its a movie I find odd in what a gut, emotional reaction I have to it for reasons that aren't necessarily tied to the content, although that certainly plays a part (at least as echoes of old voices).

Since the movie was released, the term "slacker" was co-opted, most egregiously by the movie "Slackers", which was sort of a gross-out comedy of no redeeming value. Various websites, properties, etc... have tried to take on the term. But, whatever.

All part of it I suppose.

It's like getting a little closer to the rock goddess herself.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Should I be:

1) comforted to know there are fewer bullets available?
2) terrified that all the bullets are sold to people who would use them against me?
3) disappointed that Central Texas is also full of wingnuts that believe an Obama administration would mean the end times and who are stocking up, a la Timothy McVeigh?
4) angry with ammunition suppliers for failing to keep up with demand?
5) curious as to who owns the bullets?
6) joining Lou Dobbs in believing its all the Cartels?
7) buying my own weaponry and getting ready for my life to turn into "The Magnificent Seven?"
8) not surprised? This is Texas.
9) admitting its me who has all the bullets?
10) thinking bullets should cost $5 a piece if cigarettes are $7 a pack.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lovely Out

It is freakishly beautiful in Austin today. 70 degrees, clear sky, low humidity, a stiff wind. Went to Auditorium Shores with the dogs. Lucy was like a little black comet, flying all over the place in large elliptical orbits.

It is a Maxfield Parrish kind of day.

Despite what I understood to be a general snobbery concerning Parrish's work, I used to keep this poster on my wall in college. It was nice to have a bit of Parrish sunlight to remind you of days like today.

Blogging will recommence when it is not sunny and/ or very, very nice outside.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Friday Night Lights

By the way, the really nice restaurant that the Garrity's took Tim Riggins to in this week's episode was Green Pastures, where Jamie and I got married.

I always like seeing Austin landmarks on the show, even when its a little distracting. That was particularly a good one. (Janine Turner, on as a guest start, ordered the same thing I had last time I was there.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Pt. 2

The Superman Homepage has a Halloweenish banner today!

Click the image for the full-size banner

Or check it out on the site!


I'm not sure you got enough Elvira in your Halloween. Here is Elvira's "Monsta Rap" cut to scenes from the film "Elvira: Mistress of the Dark".

Here's a link to Elvira's updated website.

Special Halloween Treat

I don't talk about it a lot, but one of my favorite movies is "Little Shop of Horrors". Sure, its partially because of Ellen Greene as Audrey (a DITMTLOD), but its also just a really fun movie.

Ellen Greene in "Little Shop of Horrors" made my 12 year-old heart pitter-patter

I've seen the play twice, and it has a markedly different ending than the one folks saw in theaters. In fact, it sort of changes the whole movie in a way.

A while back the original ending was supposed to make it to DVD, but there was some weirdness and the DVD was recalled. I've also heard a fire or something ate the footage. I don't really understand what happened and won't pretend to know.

But... it looks like the workprint of the original ending has found its way to YouTube.

If you have fifteen or twenty minutes to kill, here you go:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Honestly, as expensive as this footage looks (especially for the era in which it came out) I can't believe they scrapped it.

Here's Steve Martin in "Little Shop of Horrors"

and click over here for the Skid Row sequence.

Lucy in Disguise

When I was in my first semester at UT, I had big plans to hit 6th street for Halloween with JAL and Michael. Those two had some incredibly elaborate costumes planned, but we were all still thinking a bit about what we would dress (or at least how they would pull off their costumes) in early October. We all got into, I think, JAL's car and headed down to South Congress. This was before South Congress was SoCo, and was more a mishmash of Continental Club, a few thrift shops, some knick-knack shops, and wasn't... well, it wasn't SoCo.

Anyway, I don't know how they knew it was there, but Justin and Michael took me to Lucy in Disguise, the most unecessarily elaborate costume shop I would ever enter.

Lucy's is still going strong these many years later. They have the same insane collection of masks, hats, and, literally, thousands and thousands of costumes. It's fun just to go in and look around. Obviously its a bit late today for running down there and getting a costume, but maybe a hot tip for next year...?

The Statesman ran an article this morning on the shop. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vote Early

I really didn't have much of a wait when I voted early the other day. There was a line, but the volunteers at the poll were really moving us through the registration portion, and they had a good number of booths.

Apparently Travis County has already seen a large early voting count, and I'm betting your locality will, too. I'm also betting the turnout for this election will be huge, and that can translate into some lengthy lines on November 4th. And while I like exercising my rights and privilege as an American as much as the next guy, standing in the cold in a line before work isn't something I'd do if I could avoid it.

And that's the miracle of early voting (especially if you've been pretty sure how you were voting on all ballot items for a while). I don't know how it is where you live, but Travis Co. seems to have done a very good job of getting a multitude of sites up with convenient hours.

See what your office policy is for giving you time off for voting (or figure out how to dump the kids on someone else for half an hour) and get out there and get to the polls before early voting ends in your area.

Also, make sure you understand how the vote is cast at your polling location. Apparently the same locality in Florida with the hanging chads of 2000 has been through several voting options as they've tried to find a system that works for voters. They've had trouble with people misunderstanding how the ballots of different types scored votes and the stories would be funny if it weren't such a mess.

I'm a bit uncomfortable with Travis Co.'s current system as it doesn't give the voter a receipt or paper trail. I double checked all my selections before hitting "submit ballot", but I've worked in IT long enough to know... that means absolutely nothing unless you have a way to verify your selections after the fact. But for now, I'm taking it on faith that the system is working.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

10 Things to Do to Prepare for Halloween

1) Watch Thriller Video

Is anything more Halloween-o-rific than the full video for Thriller? It's scary, campy, has a werewolf movie within the movie, has dancing and singing and a horde of zombies. Really, if you're going to be attacked by zombies, I hope its of the dancing variety.

Here's the full version.

I can't embed the full version of the video, so here's a version from India:

By the way, Austin is participating in some worldwide, synchronized Thriller dance on October 25th. They're going to shut down 6th street to make way for the dancers. From what I saw on News 8, Austin Mayor Will Wynn is participating.

Somehow, I regret not getting me, Steven and Mangum involved in this...

2) Caramel Apples

This year, I want to skip the wax sheet, pre-cut caramel and do the full, heated dipped caramel apples.

Dizzam. I love a good caramel apple. Especially tart green apples.

3) Watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"

I hate to think how much this cartoon affected me as a kid, but I think the mix of hilarity and disappointment that marks "Great Pumpkin" is something every kid can sort of relate to.

I got a rock, indeed.

4) Do the Time Warp

Ah, Columbia.

They're looking to remake The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I cannot imagine this movie without the original cast, but if they DO choose to do it, hopefully they can get Tim Curry to play The Criminologist.

5) Get Super-suit squared away.

Yup, I'll be the Man of Steel again this year. That costume wasn't cheap last year, and I'm not ready to go back to being Green Lantern again for Halloween.

6) Hang up decorations

Due to our displacement, we haven't managed to get the decorations out yet for Halloween. Maybe on Sunday.

7) Watch a full-length scary movie or ten

We watched Ghost Hunters last night to get in the spirit, but we haven't gotten around to a scary movie yet...

8) Decide on Halloween candy for the kiddies

This is always a much bigger deal than it sounds. We have to figure out how much we want to pay for, and this year, I'm assuming we'll have a ton of kids with Halloween landing on a Friday. We'll probably do a mix of chocolate and sugary-type stuff, and be more sparing in how much we give out.

9) Consider hitting 6th Street Halloween

If you haven't been... it's usually 80,000 people who mill about, with a sort of informal constant circling of a blocked off portion of the street. It's a lot of people watching.

You see all manner of costumes, from the incredibly elaborate to the frat boys who get drunk and show up wearing saran-wrap diapers (that was Halloween 1996, if memory serves). My favorite is still the guy who came as the Grim Reaper, stood about nine feet tall, and would just point at random people as he passed by. Truly creepy.

It's been probably 10 years since I've been down there on Halloween. I miss it, but I also don't know if I want to go downtown in a Supersuit.

10) Invite Apartment-Dwelling pals down to hand out candy

If anyone wants to help us hand out candy this year, we'd love to have you. Maybe we can have an impromptu Halloween party of sorts?

Just wear a costume and come hang out. It'll be fun.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

ACL Fest 2008 - Day 3

Today had, in my opinion, a better line-up.

We started off with Gillian Welch at the AMD stage (a stage that will need re-tooling next year, as sound bleed from the BMI and Dell stages caused all sorts of havoc). Welch played some of my favorite tunes, and got Allison Krause on stage to sing "Go to Sleep" from the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack. Honestly, it was my favorite set of my ACL experience, but I also have a few of her albums and am biased.

We then headed over to the AT&T Blue Room stage to see "Stars", who I thought were pretty darn good. I think I'd heard them before, or even saw them last year, but I was impressed. Decent set.

We regrouped at the Crack Flag back at the AMD stage for the Neko Case set, which was decent. I'm not sure I'll ever be into Neko Case the way other folks are, but her set (what I saw) was pretty decent. I think, had I not just seen Gillian Welch do more with just she, David Rawlings, and two guitars... perhaps I'd have been more impressed.

We (Julia P., Jason, Greg J. and others) cut down to the Austin Ventures stage to see Heartless Bastards. Honestly, I was a little disappointed, but I'd also built their set up into something pretty big in my head, so, there you have it. They didn't play "Into the Open", which made me sad. And, bands, if you have a 45 minute set at a festival where you're playing before the Raconteurs and Gnarls Barkley, DO NOT PLAY YOUR SLOW STUFF. Not if you want to not be overpowered by nearby stages and more rockin' sets.

Sound bleed seemed to be a far, far greater problem this year. I'm not sure if bands were turned up louder, if they scheduled quieter acts against louder acts, if the air pressure was different... but I noticed dit this year, and I never noticed it last year.

We returned to the Crack Flag positioned at the AMD stage for Raconteurs. I have something more than a passing interest in Jack White and his two main acts, and honestly wish I spent more time getting to know white Stripes and Raconteurs better. And, after the set this evening, I most certainly will be revisiting their stuff.

I basically flipped a coin on Gnarls Barkley/ Raconteurs, who both played at the same time. And, so, yeah... Raconteurs won out, and I felt like I saw a great show. Would love to see them in a real musical venue some time.

I skipped Band of Horses and left, so I could get home and not crawl into bed, exhausted, again as I have to be at work tomorrow.

I, technically, also skipped Foo Fighters, but here's the thing:

I don't like Foo Fighters. I never have. And there were all these rumors going around, like "it may be Foo Fighters final show... EVER."

Which, if I liked them, I might care. But I sort of feel the same about them as I do about Goo Goo Dolls, Blink 182, Maroon 5... All bands for which I have no antipathy, but that I just don't care about. So when you tell me its their FINAL show... well... okay. Enjoy.

Anyhow, that was my ACL.

I will post a few pictures this week.
So when I was walking out of ACL, I overheard a young lady sharing the following with some friends:

God. Austin. This totally reminds me of a joke.
Okay. Okay.
How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?
What, you don't know?


ACL Fest 2008 - Day 2

Well, I didn't make Day 1. Which kills me, because the guy who is probably in my top 3 musicians, David Byrne, played yesterday. But work blew up, and so what are you going to do?

Depending on my source of livelihood this time next year, I'm going to maybe not buy a three day pass, if I go next year.

Today I saw:

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - who I fully recommend.

Erykah Badu - who played a really nice set of stuff I didn't really know. I had a brief flirtation with the music of Badu about ten years ago, and then lost her debut CD somewhere in my moves since. Anyway, I thought she put on a great live show.

I was going to see MGMT, but I couldn't get close enough without spillover from other stages, so I went to see:

Electric Touch - who claimed to be a local act, despite some sort of UK accent. They were good, and I plan to see if they are as local as they claim.

The Natchito Herrera All-Stars, who played Cuban-style jazz and were a lot of fun.

I wandered over to watch the end of Spiritualized, but wasn't too crazy about what I saw and heard.

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band played, and I didn't like the first part of his set at all, and actually wandered off for a burger, came back, and dug the remainder of the show, including a good cover of "Kodachrome".

Iron & Wine played next, and I kind of got stuck guarding the Crack flag area as everyone else ran off to go hear Iron & Wine across the field. (The lesson, if anyone asks you what you're about to do, always insist you're about to leave). So I kind of missed Iron & Wine, who I wanted to see.

And, Beck closed out the night, playing pretty much his hits, if he has such a thing.

I am tired as heck and am going to bed.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Dry, Clear Sunday

Today I woke up late after condemning Jamie to wake up and feed the dogs.

We cleaned up the house a bit more to accommodate my dad, who was driving in from Ike-damaged Spring, TX to take part in our electricity and air conditioning. His office in Houston apparently has power, but water is still iffy. The house I lived in back in high school has water, but no power. And no power for the foreseeable future. So I'm discouraging him from going home, but The Admiral is not one who believes in the creature comforts. He's been using a kerosene lamp for his light.

We met up off 2222 and headed out to Steiner Ranch to go see the progress on Rancho Relaxo, my folks' soon-to-be house. I have to say, if you're going to build a house for my folks, Rancho Relaxo really fits the bill. Lot of space for them to spread out, big windows, a lovely (unobstructed) view of a preserve. And The Admiral has included a workshop area, which he has, unfortunately, dubbed "Daddy's Playhouse", which was deemed creepy by all.

I am a bit at a loss as to what I should be doing, as per helping out in the wake of Ike. With Katrina, I was pretty far away, and so I sent money. Well, with my recent employment status, I am not exactly Rich Uncle Pennybags, and I'm pretty close to Houston... so after The Admiral leaves and I'm done putting my my token evacuee... I need to figure out some way in which I can help.

I've been pondering Austin's identity as the go-to destination for evacuees.

Austin is 1/5th the size of Houston. It raises a lot of questions about the assumed ability of the city to absorb and support over a sustained period (Houston could be without power for up to two weeks, provided it DOESN'T get hit with any more hurricanes). Hospitals, etc... get stretched to their limit during these emergencies... and one wonders what can be done to make these resources more expandable. (I heard a story of someone being turned away from receiving medical help at the ER because Ike evacuees meant that the ER was beyond capacity. Understandable, but... where do you go when the ER is full and you need help?)

All of that said, I hope we Austinites CAN be the sort of people we hope we are, and that we can continue to be the default place for evacuations in years to come.

We might need to rethink some our practices to make it work. We're using schools as shelters can't mean disruption of school... looks like we got that one figured out by Monday this time. Other resources, like the Austin Food pantry, are being quickly drained to serve the evacuees, rather than serving its normal purpose. Which is a great resource, but what happens when the evacuees go home and the pantry is bare?

There are a million little things that will, no doubt, be brought up in the wake of Ike. But I give credit to the Red Cross for their response, Austin, San Antonio, etc... for opening their doors. FEMA has responded much, much better than during Katrina and Rita. And it seems whatever plans were put into place since Katrina are working to the extent that people will follow instructions and leave when told "you will otherwise die".

Do evacuees have anywhere to return to? What will happen in the weeks and months ahead? Can the evacuation destination cities sustain themselves as evacuation destinations?

I do not envy Chertoff or whomever replaced Brownie as head of FEMA. Because I have no idea how to answer these questions without coming to some uncomfortable conclusions.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The League has an evening out

Last night Jamie and I met up with Carla and David at Shady Grove. For those of you not familiar with Austin, its a bit of an institution down on Barton Springs Road, about a mile from the actual Barton Springs. The area is/ was one of my favorites in Austin. It's right near the Chuy's restaurant where the Bush girls had their infamous carding incident, and Zilker Park.

But reminders that nothing good can survive in Austin without a real estate mogul buying up what made the place interesting to begin with, leveling it, and putting in over-priced condos... there's now a massive trench in the earth, several stories deep where there used to be a very Austin, very goofy trailer park full of burnouts and hipsters.

Nonetheless, Shady Grove endures and will thrive with people living next door in a multi-story condo. It may just have a heck of a lot more shade over it than it used to.

It was great seeing David and Carla. It'd been a really long time. Carla's been flexing her acting muscles taking improv classes, which led to a discussion earlier this week regarding maybe going to see some improv after dinner.

We wound up at the ColdTowne Theatre off Airport, not too far from where I used to live circa 1997. The funny thing was, I knew of about eight ways to get there, but I couldn't remember exactly the fastest way. I've lived in too many spots all over this town. And its been too long since I lived North of the River.

ColdTowne is a troupe formed by several Katrina evacuees who were doing Improv in New Orleans, but fled to Austin in pat because troupe member Tami Nelson had lived here prior to living in New Orleans. I know this, because I knew Tami in high school and then here in Austin in college and post-college. She wasn't a theater person, or in improv then, but when it was one of those things: Tami + Improv = total sense

But we also hadn't gone to see her perform since being back. The honest-to-God's-truth of it is that I get really anxious going to see people I like perform live in any capacity. Seeing people perform live and feeling that it came up short is always kind of awful. Its bad enough when I read what people have written and I don't find myself exactly pumped about reading it/ telling them I liked it. Its something again when I feel stuck for an hour or two watching it live (like, i can't get away or they'll see me) and I have to see them right after the show and drop superlatives on them.

There are a few exceptions. I know and like what Jason's band plays enough to feel comfortable saying things like "your vocals were down way too low through the whole show" or "I couldn't hear Frank's guitar" or whatever. You don't need to just blow sunshine anymore when you've seen someone play that many times, and, really, they might WANT to know some technical issues.

But with theater and Improv, man... that's just your friend standing out there. That's not the acoustics of the space, or maybe giggling because someone missed a change mid-song. And if its bad... I assume they can know its not going well when nobody is laughing.

Anyhow... The League should have known, as The Austin Chronicle listed ColdTowne as the Best Comedy in Austin. Which, I know, seems crazy with yours truly, plus Jeff the Cat, in our amazing stage show. But maybe because our show is too avant garde?

Unfortunately, three of the five of ColdTowne proper were out of town, so the format of the Saturday show was a bit off, but still really good. The first troupe to come out was "The Midnight Society", comprised of maybe eight people. It was a student group, who were nonetheless pretty darn polished. They were fun, with some standpiyt players within the group.

Tami and her partner did a two-person show under the name "Bird Dog", and, seriously, it was great. I can't recall if they did four or five scenes, total. But, yeah, well, well worth seeing. So, I'm looking forward to seeing the full ColdTowne troupe with, like, 65% more comedy.

So, if you're in Austin, go check out ColdTowne, go see Tami, and have fun.