Archive for November 10th, 2008

Just Right

Nestled in the heart of Texas, Austin is home to around 743,074 people.  The city, the fourth largest in Texas, is also one of the fastest growing in the country.  This is one of the things I LOVE about this city – it is the perfect size!  I love that Austin is clearly a city, but that I don’t feel overwhelmed by it.  It has all the conveniences of city life, but boasts lots of parks and greenery for outdoor activities.  I have no trouble giving people directions – which is a feat for me in and of itself.  Basically, for me Austin is the perfect place to be, a great middle ground between my small town upbringing and the city I always longed for.

Town Lake

Town Lake

— Brittany

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Drag Rats

Drag Rat is actually defined: “The term Drag Rat refers to a unique population of homeless in Austin, Texas. The name originates from the unusual amount of time these individuals spend on Guadalupe Street, known to locals as “The Drag”… These panhandlers, gravitate to Austin from all over the country because of its reputation for being cool and laid back, are just part of Austin’s unique charm, according to many locals.”

I think these homeless people are different from others for reasons other than just their location. They are normally young, super aggressive, and kind of seem like they pride themselves on who they are and their place in Austin’s society.

They are often in groups and wear black. I once met a reformed, former Drag Rat who told me about her life living on the drag. She was addicted to heroin, eating out of the Taco Cabana dumpster and was raped. She was only 22 and had a family who lived in Bee Caves; her parents had kicked her out as a result of her drug use…

That is just one story, but there are probably hundreds of people who have led this life been at some point. It makes me sad when they have dogs, but then I think having a dog reflects on their humanity.

There are a lot of resources for homeless people in Austin and Drag Rats don’t seem to be interested in taking advantage of it. Nonetheless, I do hope (especially for the younger ones) that they can get their lives together and do something other then ask for spare change and cuss at you if you don’t give it to them.

****Not everything is black and white… there are all different kinds of Drag Rats with different stories, lives, situations, and attitudes.. Below are a couple videos depicting this population in a different light.

Austin Coffee Shops

This may be more attributable to the fact that Austin is a college town, but the sheer number of coffee shops in this city is staggering. I grew up in a town where we didn’t have a coffee shop until about 5 years ago, and when we finally got it, had no idea what to do with it. Now there’s a Starbucks on the main street–the first “chain” to penetrate our protective small town.

But a city like Austin is undaunted by such things. They have obvious appeal to the college crowd, simply because they serve as a haven for studying. Personally, I don’t do a lot of studying in coffee shops, so I’m interested to hear which ones our readers think are the best. Out blog has admittedly already covered a couple–Spiderhouse and Mozart’s. Based on their Hate/Love categories respectively, you can imagine how our other writers view these two.

All of these delicious treats and more could be yours at Dominican Joe--a coffee shop on South Congress that buys direct from the Dominican Republic and removes the middle man.

All of these delicious treats and more could be yours at Dominican Joe--a coffee shop on South Congress that buys direct from the Dominican Republic and removes the middle man.

But these are just a couple drops in the pot. Formerly The Metro, Cafe Medici just opened a new location on Guadalupe this semester, right next to CVS. I can’t honestly notice a big difference, but then again, I wouldn’t call myself a frequent visitor, either. I’ve also heard that, with the new stadium renovations, we got another Starbucks on campus. Thank goodness. People really seemed to be crying out for a new location to stand in long lines and hurl buckets of money at those Starbucks people.

Just down my street, there’s JP’s Java; there are Austin Javas all over the place; in fact, a Google search of “coffee shops in Austin” returns about 7,000 entries of results. So with all of these choices, what makes your coffee house tick? For some it’s the mood–Mozart’s has a great vibe. For others it’s the location–JP’s is great when I’m at home, but I’m not above stopping by Starbucks if I’m studying in the Union.

However, if you ask me, the best coffee near campus is Einstein Bros.’s. They call it “Darn Good Coffee.” Take their word for it. Or mine.


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