Saturday, July 25, 2009

Get well, Todd Wolfson

I've had the pleasure of collaborating with longtime music photographer Todd Wolfson on several occasions over the years.

He shot many of the bands I wrote about for the Chron and once endured an Friday night photo shoot of the Peenbeets clowning around at Denny's over a table of Moons Over My Hammy (or is it Moon Over My Hammys?). While that assignment was far from glamorous, Todd is equally revered for his breathtaking fashion photography. Regardless of his subject, Todd is a true Austin mensch whose passion is palpable in his work.

Earlier this month, Todd was in a bad bicycle accident. He hit a rough spot of pavement and flew over the handlebars, landing on his head and right elbow. His injuries were numerous, including a split right elbow joint and two compound fractures in his right arm.

Aside from being unable to work, Todd now faces a long rehabilitation and a sea of medical expenses. A benefit is forthcoming at Antone's on Sept. 9. In the meantime, you can make a donation here.

All of us here at Beetsolonely wish Todd a rapid recovery.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pangaea is history

In what should come as no surprise to anyone, the trendy, overpriced bottle lounge Pangaea has closed down for some (ahem) retooling. Principal owner Michael Ault now plans to turn the space into something called The Phoenix.

Ault says Pangaea had attracted "a growing number of haters," which is putting it mildly. In flaunting their velvet rope exclusivity, the club made itself an easy target for everyone who finds fault with the "new" Austin. There aren't many other businesses in town whose (temporary) demise could elicit more grave-dancing.

In an October 2007 story preceding Pangaea's opening, Statesman arts reporter Michael Barnes described Ault as "a self-effacing, self-made offspring of New York gentry." Now Ault may well be self-effacing and a nice guy to boot, but calling someone a "self-made offspring of New York gentry" is a contradiction in terms worthy of a million spit takes. If there is such thing as a self-made man, it certainly isn't someone whose prep school roomie was the King of Jordan. Nevertheless, when Kate scored guest list spots for Pangaea's press preview, we figured it was something we had to see for ourselves.

The club's aesthetic recalled the good ol' days of colonial Africa, when any rich honky in a pith hat could plunder the Dark Continent's spoils for tacky parlor decorations. Game trophies from Ault's personal collection adorned the walls. A DJ spun Beyoncé while a saxophonist and several percussionists played along to no real effect whatsoever. Scantily clad women danced on perches in a manner best described as sizzle without the steak. It reminded me of a Las Vegas topless show - mouth-breathing titillation re-imagined as a bad musical to make it palatable enough for conventioneers who want to drag their wives along.

I wasn't about to complain to people serving me free drinks, but I got the impression they found my earnest-yet-paltry tipping slightly pathetic despite the fact that no one else even bothered to tip. And why should they? Pangaea's target audience was the expense account and swag bag crowd, not people who get pissed when a club charges more than $3 for Lone Star.

While pursuing the highbrow wasn't necessarily a bad business decision, not being more demure about it ensured the club would forever be perceived as the place most likely to attract doppelgangers of James Spader's character from Pretty in Pink. Given the perilous economy, it's a wonder they held on this long.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Free Slurpees tomorrow!

In celebration of the calendar providing 7-Eleven with a free publicity opportunity, the Dallas-based convenience store chain will give away 7.11-ounce Slurpees tomorrow.

I’m under no illusion that seven ounces and change is enough Slurpee goodness to combat the mind-roasting heat wave now plaguing Texas, but free is free and there’s nothing stopping you from hitting up every 7-Eleven in town.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I love a good sale, but...

...I think I would've chosen some different wording to promote this one.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Huey drops the mic

Last year's edition of A Capitol Fourth featured a performance from Huey Lewis and the News aired live over most PBS stations. By gray-maned Washington standards, hiring Lewis constitutes bringing in "someone for the kids." Maybe it was 25 years too late, but that's not bad by federal bureaucracy standards.

Huey was not in particularly fine vocal form for "The Power of Love." The acoustic challenges of the performance setting probably play a role in that. Nevertheless, he gamely soldiers through until 2:04, when an lapse in dexterity caused him to loudly drop the microphone.

Fortunately, the televised members of the VIP section were apparently too busy waving tiny flags to notice.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Arby's big hat sign goes dark

The long-standing Arby's at the corner of Burnet Rd. and Longmont went to fast food heaven this week. I do not care for what passes for food at Arby's (and apparently I'm not alone), but as a fan of 60s pre-fab restaurant style, I've always liked the old-school neon "big hat" sign out front.

Now covered with a tarp, I imagine the sign isn't long for this world, either.

NOTE: The above photo is not the Burnet Rd. Arby's, but that's what the sign looked like with the tarp off and the neon blazing.

The ultimate career move, revisited

If pop catalog albums weren't ineligible to appear on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, Michael Jackson would have the top three albums in the U.S. for the week ending June 30. Thriller, The Essential Michael Jackson and Number Ones moved over 315,000 copies combined. I'm guessing 98 percent of those albums were sold after 5pm last Thursday.

This is the first time since Billboard began using Nielsen SoundScan to track album sales in 1991 that a pop catalog album (let alone three of 'em) sold more copies than the current number one album. It doesn't speak highly of the Black Eyed Peas, whose The E.N.D. will go down in history as the week's number one album despite selling fewer than 86,000 copies.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Gloria's in excelsis beanus

Gloria's, a Salvadoran/Mexican restaurant that started in Oak Cliff and now has locations throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, plans to open its first Austin location at the Domain ("Defining the Urban Austin Lifestyle for the Next 100 Years") by the end of 2009. They are moving into the short-lived former location of Oakville Grocery.

Between good food and relatively reasonable prices, I expect Gloria's to do quite well against more expensive competitors in the area. Their free hot black bean dip is worth a trip by itself.