Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Eggman Cometh

Scrambled eggs, all my troubles seem so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Still I believe in scrambled eggs

-Paul McCartney

If you like scrambled eggs with Tabasco sauce as much as I do, you'd better get over to your Austin area H-E-B before June 6. They have an in-store coupon right now that entitles you to a dozen Grade AA eggs for nothing if you purchase a five-ounce bottle of Tabasco original pepper sauce or chipotle pepper sauce. Seeing as how I'd buy those two things even without the enticement of a coupon, I feel this is a really fine-ass deal.

Incidentally, the good people of Avery Island, Louisiana suggest you make Tabasco scrambled eggs by adding the sauce before you beat the eggs. I prefer to just douse my eggs with Tabasco after they're cooked.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Beyond the Valley of the Rolling Roadshow

Although not necessarily his most (ahem) titillating film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was the late Russ Meyer’s biggest thumb of the nose toward Hollywood. Directed by Meyer with a screenplay by Roger Ebert, everything about Dolls exudes the raspberry air of a grand prank. The comic coup de grace was playing the 20th Century Fox theme during a beheading scene. At the same time, Meyer and Ebert covered the exploitation bases with contained enough sex, drugs and violence to warrant an X rating in 1969.

This summer will be a momentous one for BTVOTD fans. On June 13, the movie makes its U.S. DVD debut in a two-disc set loaded with commentary, trailers, screen tests and the like. Even more exciting is the Alamo Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow screening on Saturday, June 10 at Independence Brewery. Beth Garner and the Queen of Spades will play Carrie Nations songs from the movie, and cast members Cynthia Myers (Playboy's Miss December 1968), Erica Gavin (who also memorably starred in Meyer’s Vixen) and Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell himself (or herself), John LaZar will be in attendance, too.

Now that’s my kind of freaked-out happening!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Family Sick Leave

Apologies for the recent paucity of posts. I've been in Houston for the last several days while my mom was having surgery for breast cancer.

She had a lumpectomy Thursday morning at Methodist Hospital and was back home that afternoon. The surgeon said her lymph nodes looked clean, which is good, but we're still waiting to hear back from pathology to be sure. Assuming that's the case, she'll probably start six weeks of radiation therapy later this summer.

It appears as though early detection was key here. With that in mind, here are the American Cancer Society's early detection recommendations. ACS changed its recommendation for annual mammograms from age 50 and up to age 40 and up a few years back. If you have a family history of breast cancer, your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent mammograms.

I didn't want to write about this until I got the okay from my mom, but it certainly has been in the forefront of my mind over the last couple of weeks.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Astroworld in the Early Seventies

As the demolition of Astroworld nears completion, here's a quick peek back in time at what the lost Houston amusement park looked like in the early Seventies. The six-minute reel includes footage of the Alpine Sleigh Ride, the River of No Return (once operated by a young Daniel Johnston!), the Wagon Wheel, Le Taxi and the Astrowheel.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Clifford Antone Dies

Austin nightclub patriarch Clifford Antone was found dead this afternoon in his Town Lake condominium. Antone was 56. Cause of death is undetermined pending autopsy, but police said it appeared to be non-suspicious.

Although Antone's is no longer a blues club in the truest sense, the club was a pivotal linchpin in the development of a new circuit that showcased legends like Muddy Waters, Albert King and John Lee Hooker in their twilight years alongside then-upstarts like Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. When Antone's opened its doors at Sixth and Brazos in 1975, there was hardly any blues circuit left.

"The hardest time was right around '75," Antone told Margaret Moser in a 2001 Austin Chronicle feature. "That's why we became so close with Jimmy (Reed), Clifton (Chenier), Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Walter Shakey Horton, and Sunnyland Slim. Some of them had never been to Texas. Some of them no one wanted anywhere, and here's this club of kids devoted to the blues. It just blew them away."

Despite Antone's well-publicized troubles with the law - he served two and a half years in federal prison for marijuana distribution and money laundering before being paroled in 2002 - he remained an iconic figure in Austin culture. It is sad to see him go.

Photo by Kelly West, Austin American-Statesman

Sunday, May 21, 2006

K-Y for the 2K

The K-Y family of personal lubricants (click through for valuable coupons!) has come a long way since the days when its overly viscous, medically-oriented jelly ruled the roost. Nowadays they're going after the higher-end water-based lube market once left to Astroglide and Wet with a wispier, more sensualized presentation.

To that end, K-Y just introduced a mistable lubricant as well as a line of massage lotions with exotic names like Paris Twilight and Malibu Sunrise. Because the constant rollout of new products is apparently the only way to keep a brand fresh, I imagine we'll be seeing even more lotion varieties in the not-too-distant future, including:

1. Bangkok Mist
2. Tijuana Taxi
3. Stockholm Syndrome
4. Minnesota Nice
5. Alone in Albuquerque
6. Hamburg Handy
7. Big D Butter Queen
8. Mississippi Goddam
9. Scranton Santorum
10. Cleveland Steam

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Great Job You're Doing There, Sweetheart

Former President Bill Clinton demonstrates the gentlemanly way to grab a shapely young intern from behind at UT's LBJ School of Public Affairs graduation ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Photo by Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman

Friday, May 19, 2006

House Speaker Needs Good Shaking

Somebody needs to shake the shit out of House Speaker Dennis Hastert before he explodes David Cronenberg-style and injures a bunch of innocent people.

Trying to justify his party's tax cuts for the wealthy Wednesday night on C-SPAN, Hastert claimed a family of four earning $40,000 pays no taxes.

"So you probably, if you don’t pay any taxes, you are not going to get a very big tax cut," he concluded.

In fact, if this family's $40,000 came from wages, they would've paid 7.65% (or $3,060) in payroll taxes, which funds Social Security and Medicare (and I won't even go into the regressive nature of having payroll taxes apply only to the first $94,200 earned). The $40,000 family would've also paid sales taxes, but I guess that doesn't count in Hastert's cranium.

Whether Hastert meant a family of four earning $40,000 merely doesn't pay any federal income tax is ultimately beside the point. What's important is that the Republican leadership doesn't believe wage earners should get a tax break because wage earners "don't pay taxes."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Climb Aboard the L.A. Time Machine

As the nation's prime repository of Mid-Century commercial kitsch, greater Los Angeles is home to a boatload of nearly-extinct restaurant types such as Googie coffee shops, spaghetti houses, French dipperies and exquisitely decorated food palaces like Clifton's Cafeteria (pictured here).

Although many of these restaurants have been torn down and others (such as the last Brown Derby building) face demolition, Los Angeles Time Machine has a comprehensive listing of still-operating L.A. eateries and bars built before 1970. Plenty of photos, too. This is great stuff.

One of these days, I'm going to go out to Los Angeles and just drive around looking at stuff like this.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Don't Feed Waffles to Animals

There was a bit of excitement early last Saturday morning at the Smokey Park Highway Waffle House in Asheville, North Carolina when a bunch of whites got into it over immigration with a bunch of Hispanics.

“The two groups were jawing back and forth with each other over citizenship issues and whatnot,” Asheville Police Lt. Wallace Welch told the local paper.

As the Hispanic group drove away, someone in the car fired a gun through a plate glass window. One man in the restaurant sustained a bleeding arm from either flying glass or a richocheted bullet.

A quick listen to the amusing, Cops-worthy 911 call made by this man offers a good indication that the whole mess was fueled by copious amounts of alcohol. In the South, not being able to tell the difference between Waffle House and Huddle House is like blowing a .22 on your breathalyzer.

I don't care about what plot of soil you arbitrarily entered this mortal plane on, what ethnicity you are or what god you pray to. Any man who can't sit there and eat his motherfucking waffles in a reasonably pacific manner should be stripped of the right to call himself a man, for he is nothing more than a savage beast with a driver's license.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My Little Turn on the Catwalk

If you would've told my 15-year-old self that I would one day take part in a fashion show, I would've accused you of being high in a friendly way.

Having emerged from an adolescence of such gross sartorial ineptitude, I'm especially giddy that JenBB of Felt Up and Blue Velvet reknown asked me to take part in tomorrow night's annual Club de Ville Spring Fashion Show. I get to hang out backstage with models and everything. I'll also get to rehearse, which should minimalize the chances of me falling off the stage.

The show features fashions from several Austin boutiques, including Flipnotics, Estilo, Legs Diamond, Shiki, Upstairs, and, of course, Blue Velvet. The whole thing starts at 8pm and admission is $15. Or you can attend the VIP reception at 7pm for $40. All proceeds benefit AIDS Services of Austin, which is a mighty fine cause indeed.

Tickets are available at Blue Velvet, Club de Ville, Pink Salon, Innu Salon and all other participating boutiques.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Soup Nazi Invading Dallas

Al Yeganeh, whose Soup Kitchen International store in midtown Manhattan was the inspiration for Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” episode, is now going nationwide via the new Original Soup Man franchise. The first Texas location is opening this summer in Dallas at the newly-expanded NorthPark Center.

If you go, here are the rules:
1. Pick the soup you want!
2. Have your money ready!
3. Move to the EXTREME left after ordering!

There's also a list of rules for media inquiries, one of which is not to mention the N-word. Although Yeganeh understandably resented having his house rules likened to National Socialism on national TV, he apparently has no qualms about parlaying that association into big bucks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Saturday, May 13, 2006

My 500th Post!

I was intending to post a get-out-the-vote reminder yesterday for today's election (polls open until 7pm!), but I wound up being waylaid by a nasty stomach bug. This pretty much erased an otherwise picture-perfect spring Friday for me, but at least I'm starting to come out of it in time for Mother's Day.

I wish I had something more exciting for my 500th post, but frankly, I'm just happy not to be doubled over with nausea anymore.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

James Brown!

I saw James Brown at Stubb's last night and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the show. It wasn't just an opportunity to bask in collective reverence. Although his band does most of the work these days, taking plenty of extended instrumental breaks, the Godfather still seems to be in command of the stage at age 73. Even without luminaries like Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker in tow, the band landed those funky breakdowns like they knew a fine awaited if they didn't.

As for me, I'll be glad if I can still mow the lawn once a month at age 73.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Short Term Sperm Berm

Researchers in Los Angeles are testing a hormonal contraceptive that suppresses sperm production while allowing men to recover fertility after 3-4 months. Although it is still years away from market, an injected or implanted male contraceptive might be just the ticket for guys who want to avoid impregnating anyone without resorting to the big snip. The downside is that it may create a disincentive to using condoms, which could lead to higher rates of HIV and other STDs.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ron Titter Band Thursday!

Looking for something to do in Austin this Thursday night? Well, how about pouring yourself a nice warm jar of The Ron Titter Band?

We'll be playing the book release party for Josh Frank's Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies around 9:30pm at Club De Ville. We even learned a mystery Pixies song for this show, so I hope it doesn't hail on us.

After that, you should go to Beerland at midnight to see a rare performance by the Sexy Finger Champs with former bassist Rebekah Whitehurst and current bassist Ernie C. Ernst in attendance.

Then you should go ahead and take Friday off because the man owes you one, dammit!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Hard Hat Riots

On May 8, 1970, four days after Ohio National Guardsmen killed four students and wounded nine others at Kent State University, protesters in New York City were set upon by angry construction workers screaming things like “Love it or leave it!” and “Kill the commie bastards!” So began the "Hard Hat Riots."

There was at least one contemporary news account of workers being offered bonuses by their contractor employers for taking time off to "break some heads." Interestingly, several of the workers came to the Wall Street demonstration from the nearby World Trade Center construction site.

Although the Kent State shootings are generally accepted as tragic today, there were many contemporary law-and-order voices that heartily approved of them at the time.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Into the Purple

You know the purple part of a severe thunderstorm on Doppler weather radar? Well, I just got done driving through that shit a little while ago. Not a good idea, kids.

Things were getting pretty bad as I approached 45th and Lamar. I almost pulled into the health department parking garage to wait it out. I flipped on KVET (the only radio station in town that pays enough attention to weather) and their transmitter was cutting out. Sheets of rain were blown at me by gusts of wind in the 50-60 mph range, but I was only about 10 minutes from home, so I kept going.

The hail started coming near the intersection of Grover and Brentwood, which was conveniently blocked off by a fallen limb. My brakes locked up as I skidded to avoid it. Fortunately, I managed to get underneath my carport before any serious damage occurred. If that's what marble-sized hail sounds like when it peppers your car, I don't want to find out what baseball-sized hail sounds like.

If I ever drive into the purple again, it sure as hell won't be in a car I own.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Although the history of the American mainstream media’s complicity in our falsely-predicated war with Iraq is still unfolding, this thick excerpt from Eric Boehlert’s Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush provides a good overview of the cowed post-9/11 mentality that allowed the Bush administration to get away with it.

America suffered a mass nervous breakdown after 9/11 and the Bush administration cynically took full advantage. While we grieved and reeled, the mainstream media fell down on the job like a scared child at the feet of its daddy president, dutifully reporting the administration’s misinformation about WMDs as fact and scaring us into buying useless plastic sheeting and duct tape.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan got relegated to the day stage and whoever was responsible for the anthrax letters (remember those?) remained at large.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gone Daddy Gone

I did a brief interview with Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie yesterday morning in advance of their upcoming Austin show at Stubb's on May 18.

Like so many chronically unmotivated, alienated and unsexed high school kids who fully expected to be dead of nuclear war before age 30, the Wisconsin-based trio's self-titled first album was a big-time touchstone for me. If I would’ve known how many ohter kids wore out copies of that album, maybe I wouldn’t have been so alienated.

I first heard Violent Femmes in 1985. The album was two years old then. My buddy John picked me up in his beat-up VW bug and told me he had a tape of this band I just had to hear. We cruised down lower Westheimer in Houston listening to “Blister in the Sun” and “Add It Up” over and over again. Gordon Gano’s articulation of adolescent rage and longing is perfectly pitched, but Ritchie and drummer Victor De Lorenzo’s folk and jazz-alluding rhythmic arrangements are no less important in ensuring the album’s classic pedigree.

It took more than a decade, but Violent Femmes eventually went platinum. To this day, it’s still the only album to sell over a million copies without ever appearing on Billboard’s top 200 albums chart. Slash Records couldn't afford the hype, so almost everyone who bought the album learned about it via word-of-mouth until the X-monikered commercial alternative stations started playing the Femmes during their mid-Nineties "flashback lunch" hours.

I'd put Violent Femmes in my top ten albums of the Eighties, right up there with X, Prince and the Minutemen. The Femmes could’ve continued on in that style, but starting with Hallowed Ground (which has its own set of devotees), they’ve continued to evolve in far-reaching ways. Ritchie’s solo albums are out there in Sun Ra country. He’s actually a master of the Japanese shakuhachi flute, too.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Quiet on the Austin Front

I made it back to Austin late this afternoon just ahead of the isolated thunderstorms. After being surrounded by activity all weekend, my abode now seems much too quiet. It sure was nice seeing the Aussie wing of my family again. We really have to do something about Australia being so far away from here.