Archive for the 'Hate' Category

Thank you, Austin, for Enabling My Curry Addiction

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Saul Elbein, and I’m addicted to curry. It’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I could admit that, but it’s true.

It wasn’t so bad at first. I’d go to someplace like Madam Mam’s and sometimes I’d order a Yellow Curry. Not always, mind. Sometimes I’d order Pad Thai, or Pad Kee Mao, or any kind of other noodle dish. And they were good. They were always good. But looking back, I have to admit, every time I did, I felt a little pang in my heart. Because it wasn’t curry.

But I was doing okay. I really was. It was too expensive for me to go that often. So most of the time I ate normal, healthy things, like pizza or hamburgers. Things that could be found in the line at Kinsolving or Jester dining hall.

And then my friend Mauro turned me on to Thai Noodles House, Etc. Tucked away behind the 7-11 at 26th and the Drag, with an incomprehensible menu, cheap plastic tables, and a staff that spoke neither English nor the language of basic human kindness, it was capital-A Authentic. Best of all, probably since they cut so many corners on their health policy, it was capital-C Cheap.

Or to put this in the drug terms you can all understand, Thai Noodle was crack to Madam Mam’s cocaine.

So I started going there a lot. I’d order a Massaman curry, no rice, slurp it down while the waitress was still standing there, glaring. Then sometimes I’d order another.

I stopped seeing friends and family. Girls would complain that I always smelled like ginger and coconut milk. Those were the bad days. When I saw friends, it would only be at Thai Noodle. If they wanted pizza or a sandwich, I’d say goodbye and traipse off behind the 7-11, alone with my shame.

Looking back, now, I realize that the low point was when I pawned my roommate’s TV for curry money. I bought an industrial size bin—Red curry cut with Panang. I know you’re not supposed to mix, but I was beyond caring. I ate it all in one epic twelve hour binge, my eyes tearing up from hot sauce and ecstasy.

Those were the bad days. Then I moved away, to the far end of West Campus, at 22nd and David Street, far from the Thai Row of 26th and the Drag.

Then Crave opened at 21st. At first, I tried to avoid it. I’d walk blocks out of my way so I wouldn’t have to walk past it, wouldn’t have to smell the succulent, sweet-sour aromas wafting over the Drag.

Until one day I was late for class. I passed by and—well, I want to say that the smell crawled into my room and forced me to skip class, to walk into Crave and put down all the money I had on Yellow Curry, extra spicy. But I’ve learned, by now, that that’s just me refusing to take responsibility for my own actions.

So I stand before you, today, to beg you. Close the Thai restaurants. Why must West Campus have three within four blocks of each other? This is a clear and present danger to the students of Austin. Maybe if we can take a stand now, they’ll go back to safer things, like alcohol, or chocolate, or LSD.

Also, to be on the safe side, we should probably close Pho too.

Thanks for your consideration.

Very Truly Yours,

Saul Elbein

High-Rises Suck

Here’s an idea, okay? Let’s say you’re a developer, right, and you want to make a lot of money by building in West Campus. You know college students and their parents, so used to substandard, below-code housing, will gladly pay a-lotsa, lotsa money for a nice, pretty high-rise. You know, someplace with a gate, and a nice paint job, and whatnot. Some place tall and high-density, so we can pack in lots of students, maybe make room for a pool on the roof.

Luckily for you, the city of Austin has rezoned West Campus to allow you to throw up (if you will) all kinds of new high-rises. Now you can charge $1700 for a two bedroom, poorly made apartment. And lo and behold, people pay it. Frat boys and sorority girls, flush with their parents money–of course, you expected that. But also other people. People who want to live somewhere nice. Or that looks nice, at least, when you show it to them.

And so the arms race starts. I see you making money, and I want in. So I by some land and throw up my own. Someplace like The Block (25th Street, 28th Street, et al) or The Texan (Salado, 25th and Pearl), or Stirling, or Quarters, or Jefferson 26. And so within two years, West Campus is filled with high-rises. Gleaming and sterile, they stretch to the sky from the Drag to Lamar, popping against the sky in bolts of creamy paint.

Except you’ve made a mistake. It’s no one’s fault, really, just a law of economics. It’s called a collective action problem, or the tragedy of the commons. None of us big-money developers wants housing prices in West Campus to crash. But we all have every incentive to throw up as many high-rises as possible. More money, right? So it should come as no surprise to find that we’ve over-saturated the market. And that $1700 you used to be getting from that two-bedroom? Well, now it’s more like $1400. Or less.

Now, we might say, okay, so we’re back where we started. The neighborhood is full of cheap housing. So far, so good.

Except that it’s not. Because what used to be an actual, um, what’s the word, ‘neighborhood,’ with actual houses and whatnot, is now a sea of identical beige monstrosities. They’re ugly, they’re poorly made, they have no character.

So thank you, developers. You’ve made my neighborhood suck just a little bit more.

Bastards.

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

No more [Dhaba] Joy.

This was the storefront to Dhaba Joy.

This was the storefront to Dhaba Joy.

I am a vegetarian, and often enjoy the vegan treats scattered around Austin at places like Mother’s Cafe and, until this fall, Dhaba Joy. Indeed, I had not found a better place for vegan cupcakes, cookies and cake. Dhaba Joy was a delicious vegan haven, and they began to expand their deliciousness to include deli sandwiches and other meal-type foods. However, this past fall, they opened their doors for the final time. I still haven’t figured out why for certain, but I know it’s a travesty. Dhaba Joy became incredibly popular in its short time on the other side of Toy Joy, and it is missed by many. There are rumors that the bakers will continue to create their delicious treats, but I have found nothing to confirm this yet. I hate that you are gone, sweet Dhaba Joy.

Does anyone know of any other great places for vegan baked goods? Or perhaps, have you heard where the bakers from Dhaba Joy are headed?

Munch on,

Caitlin

To the guy who broke into my apartment:

Thank you.

No, seriously, thank you.

I’m writing this on my girlfriend’s laptop because you currently have mine. Also, both of my roommates’. You walked into an (unlocked) house bursting with expensive goods-video games, game equipment, musical instruments-and walked out with the least valuable of them. Seriously, those computers? Probably worth $200 a piece. Maybe. There was video game equipment in one of the bedrooms worth more than all of them combined.

But, GWBIMA, I assume you knew that, because you took all of our computers out of our respective rooms. Why you missed out on larger chances for fun and profit is, I must confess, beyond me. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would have burgled my place differently. But I guess if I had stolen my laptop, I’d still have it.

Now, GWBIMA, I assume as you’re reading this, toggling periodically between this page and the eBay auction on which you are, even now, fencing my HP DV2000, you’re wondering what in the name of God any of this has to do with Austin. “Does Saul,” you perhaps wonder, “think that I am sufficiently representative of this town to symbolize something he loves/hates about it?”

Well, GWBIMA, to answer your question, yes and no. Yes, I love Austin for being the kind of place where my roommates and I were able to leave our door unlocked for almost a semester without incident, where we were able to feel like our neighborhood was totally welcoming and safe. It was something that always struck me about this place, that though there are 800,000 here it always feels like a small town. Every time I walked away from my place and didn’t lock the door, I was reminded of that. I kind of liked it.

But, GWBIMA, I guess what I’m trying to say is, that wasn’t reality, was it? No matter where you go, there will be people who are going to do shitty things, and you have to protect yourself. My romantic view of Austin was a fantasy, a dream. And thanks to you, I guess I realize that.

So thanks. Enjoy my laptop.

Shmuck.

Bar manners (or lack thereof.)

OK, so I haven’t been hating much recently, because I do love this town. And I was actually going to come on here and love, but I’m afraid the hate overrides my love at the moment.

Ethan Kennedy playing at the Carousel Lounge.

Ethan Kennedy playing at the Carousel Lounge.

I went to the Carousel Lounge tonight to watch one of Austin’s brilliant local musicians, Ethan Kennedy. He was absolutely amazing. . .but the people up at the bar watching the Tech game were less so.

Bar manners, folks. I understand you want to get out and enjoy yourself during a football game, but Ethan was actually drowned out a couple of times by the hooting and hollering (and he had a microphone!) Also, he was recording the performance, so now, scattered throughout, there will be random “Come on!!”s and whatnot. SO rude. It isn’t as if the people didn’t know Ethan was playing. . .there is no partition in the club between the stage and the bar. People need to be more mindful of their surroundings, and more respectful of performers. I have had other experiences where audience members have been really rude during performances, so let’s keep this in mind as we head out to enjoy a Saturday evening, Austin.

Stay cool,

Caitlin

The Birds.

Watch this crazy video shot in front of a Petsmart in Austin first.

Need I say more?

Austin has these huge hordes of crows that hang out in big parking lots. The H.E.B. on Riverside is a hot spot for them, as well as the parking lots of Barton Creek and Highland Mall.

Bird flock in front of Barton Creek Mall in Austin. -photo by ThatWouldBeSeven

Bird flock in front of Barton Creek Mall in Austin. -photo by ThatWouldBeSeven

Sometimes you’ll pass an electric wire that seems unusually thick.. and then realize it’s because birds are sitting on them so densely that they form a continuous thick line.

They freak me out because it reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock‘s horror movie called The Birds where masses of birds just suddenly start attacking the people.

Original poster of The Birds.

Original poster of The Birds.

Plus, they are so LOUD. AND they POOP A LOT too.

I once parked under a tree, foolishly congratulating myself for the good luck of being able to park in the shade… and when I returned to my car it was so coated with bird crap to the point that it was almost unrecognizable.
Ugh!!!! I still shudder at the memory of having to scrape of the bird crap on my door handle with a business card just so I could get it open.

It was so disgusting.
blech..

-Jane