Friday, June 30, 2006

New House Day

I bought a house this morning. I didn't say anything about it here so as not to jinx the deal, but now the keys are mine, the gag is off and the champagne room is open.

Beetsolonely's spacious new North American headquarters are a little ways north of our current location in the neighborhood known as Wooten or "The Woo," as I plan to call it. I would've considered this area North Austin when I moved to town in 1987, but I'm still south of 183, which is positively central these days.

If future posts are a little slow in coming, blame the damn lawn.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ron Titter Celebrates America July 4

Although a lot of ya will be pretty spent from the Quintron/Miss Pussycat show on Monday at Emo's (with Pong opening!), The Ron Titter Band will be making our Hole in the Wall debut on Tuesday, July 4th at 10pm. The Meshbanes are headlining. Freedom isn't free, but this show is.

You certainly don't have to come see us, but it is your patriotic duty as an American to go out on July 4th even if you have to work the next day. If you stay home and watch TV that night, you might as well be blowing 'ol King George III.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Picking Up Where Casa Bonita Left Off

Last October, we reported on the closing of Tulsa's Casa Bonita after more than three decades of thematic family fun and some of the worst all-you-can-eat Tex-Mex slop on the planet.

Although only the famed Denver location of Casa Bonita remains open (cliff divers and all), chain founder Bill Waugh has opened a new restaurant called Casa Viva in Tulsa's former Casa Bonita location. Hopefully they are improving upon the food, but Tulsa World food critic Scott Cherry wasn't too impressed, and I trust a man whose column is called "Eat, Drink & Be Cherry."

As long as we’re on the subject of Bill Waugh, I recently found out from some Metroplex-bred friends that he is also the man behind Taco Bueno, Burger Street and the once-beloved Crystal’s Pizza & Spaghetti chain, which is now down to one location in Irving.

Photo by James Gabbard/Tulsa World

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Three Spoilers

The great potential irony of the 2006 Texas governor's race is Rick Perry emerging victorious despite a majority of people voting against him. That's how it's shaping up with Kinky Friedman, Grandma Strayhorn and that other guy on the ballot.

The impulsively cool thing to do would be to vote for Kinky. After all, he's a musician with a good sense of humor. However, those whistle stop wisecracks are going stale. I wish I could believe those "no more politics as usual" platitudes, but Friedman's campaign has done far too little to posit him as something more than a novelty.

As a pragmatic measure, many left-leaners are endorsing Strayhorn. While she would be an improvement over Perry, she is still a Republican, not a true independent. Strayhorn also has a long history of opportunistic affiliation-switching. I think she'd get more done in the Legislature than Perry, but we might like it even less.

Which leaves us with Chris Bell, whose hey-over-here campaign tells you everything you need to know about the Democratic party in Texas these days.

If the election were held today, I honestly don't know who I'd vote for. None of these three candidates have a chance unless one or more of them drops out and the stronger finisher manages to coalesce some serious anti-incumbent momentum to counter Perry's riches. I wouldn't bet on it, though.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Have You Hugged Your Pudding Today?

Approximately 20 years after forgoing the opportunity to see them play in downtown Houston for free, I forked over 30 bucks to see Sonic Youth for the first time Friday night at Stubb’s.

They definitely could’ve played longer, but they sounded great. I haven’t listened to a Sonic Youth album since 1995's Washing Machine, but the new songs off of Rather Ripped (particularly “Do You Believe in Rapture?”) were enticing as well. Perhaps there's something to those four-star reviews.

My old UT student radio pal and former roommate Greg “The Greggae Giles” Giles was in town from North Carolina on Saturday. We dropped by an early evening party at Bearded Lady Printing to see Oh, Beast! before winding up at Room 710 for their 6th anniversary show featuring Pong and Hug.

Pong delivered the solid boogie-down goods as usual along with an improved light show. There was plenty of spirited dancing throughout their set. Meanwhile, Hug’s carnival of the perverse was enhanced by two dancers who graphically enacted the song “Shit Sex” with chocolate pudding. I haven't been that simultaneously grossed out and doubled over with laughter by a rock show in quite a while.

Friday, June 23, 2006

KAAM Streams the Legends

When I was growing up, every city of consequence had a "standards" radio station for older adult listeners. The last such station in Austin, KNOW 1490 AM, signed off in the early Nineties. With more and more of its target demographic dying off, the standards format is becoming as anachronistic as drive-in movies.

Dallas' KAAM 770 AM stalwartly bucks this trend, playing Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Kay Starr alongside more "modern" fare by the Kingston Trio, the Sandpipers and the Carpenters. Better yet, they're now streaming their signal far beyond the Metroplex.

If you only listen to one thing on KAAM, make it Hermann Bocklemann's Europe Today on Friday nights. Bocklemann's thick German accent, eclectic music selection and slightly twisted sense of humor make for great radio. He truly embodies the "DJ as friend" approach to broadcasting.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Back Room Shutting Down

Although I haven’t been there in years, it’s sort of sad to hear the Back Room is shutting down at the end of July after 33 years. I saw the Ramones there twice and the first club gig I ever did in Austin was a Cheezus show at the Back Room in 1991.

I say "sort of sad" because I never found the venue to be particularly endearing. Set in a strip mall backing up to miles of deteriorating apartment properties, the Back Room and its East Riverside environs are a hideously-developed, crime-conducive suburban nightmare that will take years - if not decades - to restore.

But at least drinks were cheap and parking was free.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Whither Northcross?

Today's Statesman discusses the pending redevelopment of Northcross Mall, excitedly hinting at the possibility of a new Wal-Mart like that's some sort of manna.

The plan is to demolish part of the existing mall while building a parking garage and additional stand-alone retail that will increase the total amount of available space by about a third. Whatever goes into Northcross, it'll undoubtedly be more exciting than the pathetic smattering of retail in there now.

Aside from Guitar Center and early voting, I almost never go to Northcross. Actually, I did buy a flannel shirt for $4 at Beall's several months back, but that shopping experience was tainted by a nearby salesman yammering loudly on his cellphone while passing copious amounts of gas. Whatever happened to the genteel days of stepping outside for a fart walk?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Flash Floods Hit Houston

My former hometown of Houston had a nasty-but-hardly-atypical flood event this morning. Six inches of rain fell on Hobby Airport in just 75 minutes. Water rises pretty quickly when rain falls that fast. Once the bayous fill up, there's nothing for water on a flat surface to do but pool in ever-larger circles.

It's easy to wind up stranded by rising water in Houston. Sometimes you get stuck in traffic with the water creeping ever closer to the bottom of your car door.

The street I grew up would usually flood once a year, forcing us to park in the church lot at the end of the block and wade home. Fortunately, we never had water in the house.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Pissing on the Parade

This morning's Parade magazine wants men to know they'd better get married or face an early death. "Don't go it alone!" an alarmist sidebar screams.

Recent studies have found that married men tend to live better and die later than unmarried, divorced or widowed men. Getting "enthusiastic" sex on a regular basis helps, too.

Because it's Father's Day, Parade conveniently forgot to mention that marriage disproportionately benefits men and that married women have only slightly better health outcomes than their non-married counterparts. Why? Probably because they're stressing themselves out taking care of men.

I'd never impugn the goodness of either a figurative or literal "woman's touch," but encouraging men to get married so they can live longer is sexist moralism masquerading as legitimate health advice. It promotes male pattern macho dickdom while glossing over the fact that this "solution" sticks women with caregiver chores they really shouldn't have to do.

Instead of enlisting a spouse to be your surrogate nurse, why not just learn to take care of yourself?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Love on a Longer Leash?

We’ve come a long way from the days when Fort Worth mayor Amon Carter brought a sack lunch whenever he had to go to Dallas so he wouldn’t have to spend any money there.

Yesterday, Dallas mayor Laura Miller and Fort Worth mayor Mike Moncrief held a joint news conference announcing a compromise agreement that could eventually end the Wright Amendment restrictions limiting mainline jet service out of Dallas’ Love Field. The agreement would limit nonstop service out of Love to nine states (Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas, Missouri) for eight years, then the Wright restrictions would go away.

In the meantime, “through-ticketing” would be allowed immediately. This means you could fly Southwest from Love Field to Oakland, but you’d have to make a stop in one of the aforementioned nine states. The agreement also reduces the number of Love Field gates at 20, so nearby residents won’t suffer under grossly increased commercial air traffic.

Now Congress has to approve the deal. While North Texas legislators are likely to support a local solution, legislators from states outside the Wright perimeter may bristle at the agreement’s restrictions. Unfortunately, if Congress allows Southwest to fly nonstop from Love to any other states in the next eight years, the local agreement would require the airline to relinquish half its Love Field gates to do so. This will keep Southwest from offering Love Field nonstops to its sizable Phoenix hub.

Nevertheless, it’s a good first step toward dismantling an anti-competitive law that is no longer needed by anyone without a stake in American Airlines or D/FW Airport.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Travis Co. Farmer's Market May be Redeveloped

The Travis County Farmer’s Market on Burnet Road has long been one of the most woefully under-utilized commercial zones in Austin. Although new restaurants like Brentwood Tavern and Dog Almighty have generated some traffic recently, the farmer’s market aspect of the property is pathetic. Now surrounded by rapidly appreciating neighborhoods and young families, it doesn’t take a wizard to recognize the market’s grossly untapped potential.

Therefore, I’m heartened to hear 6601 Properties is in negotiations with the county to buy the market. 6601 is the company behind the Penn Field project off of South Congress, so they’re well attuned to relatively conscientious, outside-the-big-box development. While adding eclectic retail would be the foundation of a successful rejuvenation, it would be ideal if they could use that to attract more fruit and vegetable vendors, too.

The big “if” in the equation will be parking. As last year’s Texas Barbecue Festival demonstrated, the market’s existing lot can quickly be overwhelmed by success.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Doll Parts

Saturday's Alamo Drafthouse screening of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls at Independence Brewery was fun. Because it was being held in the parking lot of an industrial office park, I expected the heat to be oppressive, but a nice breeze and several beers kept the evening bearable. My Ron Titter Band compatriot Andy Loomis and I stayed right through to the bitter end of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains at 1:30am.

The highlight for me was getting Erica Gavin's autograph on this lovely BTVOTD poster, which I plan to have framed very soon. I don't typically get autographs, but this was one I wasn't going to pass up. My friend Shazza picked up Gavin at the airport and was kind enough to point me out at the autograph table.

The ebullient Ms. Gavin said hello and quipped, "So, is this the hot one you were telling me about?" Although Shazza hadn't previously mentioned me as "hot," it doesn't change the fact that I was called "hot" by the star of Russ Meyer's Vixen.

I'm pretty sure I'll be babbling about that in the nursing home, too.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Miami Heat Co-Owner Sics God on Dallas

When it comes to the NBA, my team preferences begin with the Houston Rockets, followed by a tie between San Antonio and Dallas. I used to prefer the Mavericks to the Spurs, but all these years of being 78 miles from San Antonio are starting to sink in.

That said, I was quite glad to see the once-lowly Mavs beat the Phoenix Suns, but no more revved up by seeing them in the NBA Finals than seeing the Spurs there last year. Then I read that Miami Heat co-owner Raanan Katz is telling Israelis to go to the Wailing Wall and pray for the Heat.

“God can always help; we need him on our side against Dallas," Katz told Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth . "Every Israeli must support us; they must go the Western Wall and pray for us. Miami Heat is no less Israeli than Maccabi (Tel Aviv's b-ball franchise, also co-owned by Katz). This is also a group with Israeli ownership in which many Americans play."

I can understand praying for athletes not to be injured, but it takes a truly vainglorious prick to exhort the faithful to pray for victory in a sporting contest.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Perfect Receipt

I forgot to mention that I received a $5 coupon for my next Central Market purchase of $25 or more, too.

Indeed, it was a glorious day.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Triumph of Frugality

Being a regular customer at H-E-B Central Market on North Lamar, I receive a monthly mailer of coupons that gives me something free if I spend $40 or more in the store. Unfortunately, beer and wine don't count.

This week's coupon gives you $10 off on PGA All-Natural Beef. I think the butcher there hates me because I always ask him to give me as close to $10 of meat as possible (which isn't a whole lot when you're talking about PGA).

As I cruise through the store, I'm mentally tabulating the sum total of my purchases. This isn't easy because math gives me a stomach ache. My objective is to come as close to $40 as possible. I know H-E-B sends out those coupons with the idea of compelling people to spend much more than that, but I won't let them sucker me into buying a bunch of foodstuffs I don't need.

Yesterday, my bill came to $39.89. I felt a pang of embarrassment as I started thinking of having to hold up the rush hour checkout line by running back for one more item. Then the checker hit the tax button. My only taxable item was a $1.29 box of coffee filters, but that carried a tax of 11 cents. Amazingly, my grand total with the $10 coupon came to exactly $40.

It's too bad I didn't have music from The Price is Right on my iPod to commemorate my triumph of frugality. I told the checker I felt like I'd just bowled a perfect game. I still haven't come down.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Albertson's (Sniff): It Was Your Store

In April of 2005, this here blog predicted that either Albertson's or Randall's would be pulling out of the Austin market within the next five years.

Albertson's took a big leap toward fulfilling that prophesy today when they announced the closure of all but five stores in Travis and Williamson counties. They're taking the axe to the two Albertson's closest to me at 8716 Research Blvd. and 11331 N. Lamar Blvd. Both stores will close by summer's end. The loss of the former will really put the hurt on the shopping strip at the southwest corner of Research and Ohlen.

Although the Research store is kind of a dump, I've done pretty well with their meat department except for the time the neophyte butcher had an allergy attack while he was packing my ground beef. Hey, whatdya expect for $1.29 a pound?

Albertson's, you will be missed some people.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

6/6/06, Dude!

Happy number of the beast day, everyone. What a great time to be alive! Some folks view the forthcoming tribulations with a mix of fear and despair, but not me.

That’s because I’ll be getting a free new house and car when all the saved folks get raptured. It’ll be just like when the white man conquered America, only everything I need is already built and I won’t have to destroy any indigenous peoples. Solid comfort, baby!

Also, don’t forget that today is the National Day of Slayer. Be sure to get thine arse to the public square and blare the word of Slayer at the most ostentatious volume possible.

If a cop asks you to turn it down, scream “They’re killing our lord!” like they’re rolling that crazy judge’s ten commandments monument over your wee-wee.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Dallas' New Belmont Hotel

Back in the early Seventies when I was a toddler living at an apartment complex just off Fort Worth Avenue in Oak Cliff near the now-demolished Bronco Bowl, we’d often drive past this really cool, moderne-style Travelodge built on a cliff overlooking downtown Dallas.

This Travelodge opened in 1946 as the Belmont Motor Hotel. It was designed by Dallas architect Charles Stevens Dilbeck. As Oak Cliff fell on hard times, the former Belmont went right along with it, becoming a haven for vice.

Fortunately, the building withstood "progress" and has now reopened as the Belmont Hotel at Dilbeck Court. They’ve done a rather amazing job of refurbishing the place in a manner sure to remind Austinites of the Hotel San Jose.

The Belmont isn’t cheap, at least not by my admittedly frugal standards. Rates start at $125 (online may be cheaper), but you get wi-fi, flat panel TVs, Kiehl’s toiletries and a prime location equidistant from downtown Dallas and the rejuvenated "downtown" Oak Cliff. Not a bad choice for an upscale hipster weekend getaway.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ron Titter Hump Day

What better way to celebrate hump day than with a man-sized dose of The Ron Titter Band?

We'll be playing this Wednesday around 9:45 at the Carousel Lounge with rollicking instrumentalists Bee vs. Moth.

As a working stiff residing on the north side, I can appreciate both the time and the venue. I've never played the Carousel before.

Unfortunately, although we're on some flyers out there, we won't be playing the Sound of Urchin/Spiders show at Room 710 on Saturday, June 10. Wednesday's show is our only date in June, so we'll try and make it count.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

What a Wicked Game to Play

Licensed fashionista JenBB of Felt Up, Blue Velvet vintage clothing and new local rawk sensation Nagel has posted some fun fotos of the recent Club de Ville Spring Fashion Show.

Blue Velvet's segment of the show paid tribute to the films of David Lynch. To your left, you'll see the Wild at Heart tribute featuring the lovely Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching as Laura "Lula" Dern and yours truly as Nicolas "Sailor" Cage.

Although the faux snakeskin jacket I'm wearing was cut for a lady, I still feel it is a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom.