Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Decrepit Burnet Rd. H-E-B to expand

Here's something for North Austinites to be thankful for: H-E-B is finally getting around to expanding its cramped, understocked and altogether unpleasant location at the corner of Burnet and Allandale next year.

Upon completion, the store will enter its sixth decade at 68,000 square feet, one-third larger than its current size but still smaller than your average modern-day supermarket. Nevertheless, this gives H-E-B an even shot at maintaining its market leadership when the still-delayed Northcross Walmart opens at Burnet and Anderson.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Week in Reviews

After a months-long hiatus from music writing for the Chron, I have a review of the new Fire Marshals of Bethlehem album in this week's issue. Next up on the review block: Frank Sinatra's New York, a 4-CD/1-DVD box set of Big Apple performances from 1955 through 1990. Looks like Ol' Blue Eyes provides the soundtrack for Thanksgiving this year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Greenberg Turkeys at Central Market

I’m a big fan of Greenberg Smoked Turkeys. My family has been ordering these Tyler-based birds for generations, but recent years have found everyone from Oprah to The New York Times climbing on the Greenberg hosanna wagon.

Not everyone digs the ultra-smoky flavor of a Greenberg turkey. You give up some moisture to achieve that degree of smokiness, too. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine a better Thanksgiving weekend activity that pilaging a dilapidated Greenberg for oversized smoked turkey sandwiches.

After years of being available only via mail order, Central Market is selling a limited number of Greenberg turkeys in stores this year. They’re charging $49.95, which is steep, but worth it unless you have the gear and gumption to smoke your own in the backyard.

Friday, November 13, 2009

In memory of Steve Harrington

We got some very sad news yesterday. Kate’s cousin Steve died in a skydiving accident in California late Wednesday. He was a longtime skydiving enthusiast who had just completed a charity jump with 68 others to set the U.S. record for parachutists in formation wearing wingsuits. Today’s Boston Globe has a nice obituary.

I first met Steve and his husband Adam on Christmas in 2007 at Kate’s Aunt Charlotte’s house in Wellesley. Several months later, Kate and I would follow Steve and Adam’s lead by having our wedding in the backyard.

We’d just gotten engaged and it was my first holiday gathering with the Harrington family. I immediately took note of the tight, quick-witted rapport between Steve and his brothers. It reminded me of my dad and his brothers when they’re together. They heartily welcomed me into their family and I felt privileged to be there.

My heart goes out to Steve’s husband, parents, brothers and everyone else who loved him.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

25 years ago tonight

My 16th birthday was one for the ages. As Ronald Reagan was crushing Walter Mondale in the ’84 presidential election, a group of my friends threw me a surprise party at the long-since-shuttered Pancho’s Mexican Buffet on Bissonnet near the Bellaire Triangle. We commandeered an entire dining room, which saved non-celebrants the pain of watching me show off tasteful gifts like porn magazines and condoms that were doomed to expire long before I had any legitimate use for them.

In the midst of this flauta-fueled festival of pubescent ribaldry, Dana Gritzbaugh and her mom (!) presented me with the bodacious ta-ta cake you see above. I’d been admiring the R-rated display case at Three Brothers Bakery for several years, but my parents were noticeably unenthusiastic about the prospect of buying their son an adult-oriented dessert. Go figure.

As it was, this good deed fell to good friends, and I will forever be grateful to Dana and her mom for it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Soul Clap slides into Club De Ville

My former bandmate-turned-DJ Jonathan Toubin – a.k.a. New York Night Train – brings his globe-girdling Soul Clap dance party from New York to Austin for Fun Fun Fun Fest this Saturday, Nov. 7 from 9pm ‘til the ugly lights come on at Club De Ville.

Jonathan will be joined at 45 RPM by guest DJ Ian Svenonious (Chain and the Gang, the Make-Up, Nation of Ulysses) and Latin soul collective Brownout!, who perform live at 11pm. Cover is just $10, with reduced admission after Brownout!

And if you think you’ve got the moves, there’s a dance competition at 12:30am for a $100 grand prize. I’ll be judging the contest along with Jason Reece (…Trail of Dead), Dancin’ Erin Jantzen (L.A.X.), Philip Sambol (Strange Boys) and Stacie Smith (DJ Lingerie).

Since I’m hoping to springboard this into a career in judging people on pursuits I have no particular expertise in, expect no mercy from my end of the panel.