37th Street Christmas Lights

That  Other Paper's photos of the 37th Street Lights in Austin from 2006.

That Other Paper's photos of the 37th Street Lights in Austin

Started in 1980 by a few neighbors wanting to “one-up” each other, the 37th street Christmas light display is now an Austin tradition.

There is no committee or neighborhood planning for the lights. It is a voluntary effort made by the residents of 37th street every December to decorate their front and (sometimes) their back yards with huge, non-traditional light displays.

Many people visit the street over the holiday’s some drive through and others walk. It is recommended that you walk… driving does not allow for the “full experience” and is dangerous since there are many pedestrians.

A few years ago the Austinist published these tips for visiting:

1) The utmost and strongest encouragement we can give you is to walk, not drive. You will miss many details of the Christmas light art if you see it from a distance. And don’t just walk through quickly. Stroll leisurely and check out the details of the decoration instead of hurriedly trying to take it all in. The longer you look, the more you will see in each yard.

2) Since you will be walking the block, we suggest you come in on 38th street and find parking off of one of the side streets. There are other lights in the area, and this way you can check them out too.

3) Jamie’s (Jaime Lipman has been decorating his house with lights since the 1970’s and is one of the initial creators of this tradition.) house is one of the more noticeable houses. Don’t miss thoroughly enjoying this one. You can go in and explore his backyard which is incredibly decorated. He is the master of finding unusual things to light up. We can’t imagine how long it must take him to decorate each year, nor how many circuit breakers it takes to power everything.

4) Don’t litter while you’re enjoying the lights. It makes baby Jesus cry.

I live on E. 37th street (not the same street as the lights but close), and am definitely going to check out the lights this year! It’s a nice alternative or addition to visiting the Trail of Lights at Zilker.
-Samantha

Map of 37th Street Lights

Map of 37th Street Lights

Advertisements

Gentrification!

The Village is to Brooklyn, what Central/ Downtown Austin is to the East side.

Out with the old and in with the new. Brooklyn is where everything is happening. Many of the featured bands at this year’s ACL came from Brooklyn. There are five-star restaurants there, the real estate prices are growing and condos are going up along the East River. Longtime Brooklyn residents are protesting the demolition of historical buildings and zoning regulations…

Listing for an East Side Condo by Austin Living Properties

Listing for an East Side Condo by Austin Living Properties

A similar situation is happening here in our fair city of Austin. The East Side just hosted it’s 7th annual “East Austin Studio Tour.” Condominiums are being erected throughout the area, and with them more bars are opening and high-end clothing stores are selling their wares.

Knowing a of a new place to go to eat or drink in East Austin is something many Austinites regard as “cool.” To know where to go on the East Side is a mark of someone “in the know,” someone who has the inside scoop.

Many of the places to go to on the East Side are really awesome, they’re a lot more relaxed than bars downtown and are perfectly kitschy.  I like them a lot- but, there are times when I do think about the people getting kicked out of homes they have lived in for their entire lives, and it makes the evening a little bittersweet.

In the video below, Professor Gene Burd from UT talks about gentrification in Austin and his experiences…

However…It is, what it is… so, I say enjoy it!

There are excellent restaurants and hangouts. Take advantage of it. Or don’t.

Here is a list of places to check out.

-Samantha

Marathon’s

It seems that nearly every weekend or every other weekend there are road closures and detour signs as a result of a marathon.

Austin hosts a huge number of marathons every year of a myriad of reasons, supporting diseases, illness and a variety of non-profits.

Upcoming Austin marathons includeThe 18th Annual ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot and the Trail of Lights 5k.

Hosting marathons, half marathons and triathlons can pack a powerful economic punch for cities. As well as benefit those who run them by providing:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved health
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Increased discipline
  • Quality time outdoors

There are many running groups in Austin. “Austin Fit is one of those groups… it’s designed for folks like us who aren’t at all worried about winning…Austin Fit, offers a training program to get runners and walkers of all levels ready for the 3M and Freescale half marathons or the Freescale full marathon.” According to an Austinist.com article.

To get more information on running marathon’s or just for fun visit Run Tex or Austin TX running Clubs.

-Samantha

BBC’s World Have Your Say

(credit-kut.org)

(credit-kut.org)

This week at noon the BBC program World Have Your Say has been broadcasting live from Austin via KUT 90.5 FM.

“World Have Your Say is a BBC News discussion program where people around the world set the agenda. They use all technology possible to make the program open and indicative of as many contributors as they can. Join Ros Atkins and the rest of the WHYS crew and get involved: we’ll be helping you contribute to the discussions all week. Visit the WHYS Blog to suggest a debate,” according to the KUT website.

The technology used includes: phone calls, calls over the net, text messages, emails and comments on their blog. Their goal is to create a “global conversation where the BBC provides the platform, but our contributors control the topics we discuss and how they are discussed.”

This week they have broadcasted from Killeen, Georgetown, the UT campus and the ACL studios.

This is an awesome program, and I think it is really neat that our school and city were able to be a part of it!

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.

Hotel San Jose

Exterior of Hotel San Jose from S. Congress (credit Jennifer H. @ yelp.com)

Exterior of Hotel San Jose from S. Congress (credit Jennifer H. @ yelp.com)

I love, love, love Hotel San Jose! Located on South Congress across the street from the Continental Club Hotel San Jose is an awesome spot to have a relaxed drink with a friend or spend the night.

Originally built in 1939 as the San Jose Motel, it became dilapidated and used to be a place where prostitutes and drug users stayed until gentrification began to occur and this are of Congress became known as ‘SOCO’.  In the 1990’s the hotel was purchased by Liz Lambert a Lawyer from NY. She planned to do an over-haul of the property and convert it to what it is today.

It took Lambert 2 years to get a bank to loan her money. So, in the meantime she decided to manage the old motel to make ends meet. She used a video camera to document many of the colorful characters and odd experiences she encountered during that time. She cut it into a documentary called: “Last Days of the San Jose.” The film premiered at SXSW in 2005.

Hotel San Jose is a boutique hotel oasis. There is an outside patio open to the public that serves drinks and snacks, occasionally the patio features local DJ’s.

Interior of a suite at Hotel San Jose (credit Clarissa R. @ yelp.com)

Interior of a suite at Hotel San Jose (credit Clarissa R. @ yelp.com)

The rooms are modern and simplistic. The décor is mainly comprised of vintage posters of musician’s that have preformed in Austin.

As a hotel guest you can:
Check out music and videos
Rent bicycles
Barrow a manual Remington Premier typewriter or Polaroid camera

Hotel San Jose is dog friendly and room range from $95-$375 a night.

CO-OPS

A cooperative AKA a co-op or coop, is defined by the International Co-operative Alliance‘s Statement on the Co-operative Identity as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or who work at it.

-Wikipedia

Austin has a huge number of co-ops. When I was in preschool, I went to All Austin Cooperative Nursery School. A board made up of parents, the director, the teachers, and members of the Austin community runs the school. Each family is responsible for a support job; parents take turns helping out in the classroom once a month. It was a good experience, for my mom and I. Today I actually had lunch with my lifelong friend Taryn who I met when I went there in 1987.

There are many different kinds of Co-ops here:

If you aren’t involved or a member or a co-op, I would recommend joining one. They are great places to learn new things, meet new people, and expose you to a variety of perspectives. In co-ops you have a voice in the way that particular organization operates and are able to make changes in areas you wouldn’t be able to in places that provide a similar function that are not co-ops.

-Samantha