Posts Tagged 'Austin'

Quincy Jones at SxSW Music 2009

It was just announced today that Quincy Jones will be the keynote speaker at the South by Southwest 2009 Music festival.

Legenwait for it. . . .dary.



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

South by Southwest Festival

I know I’m super early, but I love this too much to hold it in any longer – the South by Southwest Festival is one of the coolest things about Austin, hands down.  The festival is broken into 3 parts.  It kicks off this year with the Interactive and Film portions of the festival (both start on March 13; the Interactive runs until March 17, and the Film until March 21.)

Billy Bob Thornton at SxSW 2008 (Photo by kris krüg)

Billy Bob Thornton at SxSW 2008 (Photo by kris krüg)

In 2008, Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of the social networking site Facebook), Frank Warren (from the online phenomenon PostSecret) and Jane McGonigal (an established game designer) were the keynote speakers for the Interactive fest. The Film fest showcased the hit films 21 and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, among many, many others.

Then. . .there is the music part. The SxSW Music Festival is undoubtedly one of the coolest fests to hit Austin, because it attracts people from all across the music industry, and also brings hundreds of bands into town, both big and small. In my three years at the music fest, I’ve had the honor of listening to Neil Young, Pete Townshend, and Lou Reed keynote, have listened to Iain Archer perform in a tiny Irish pub while the guys from Snow Patrol stood next to me, and ran into Teitur (literally) on my way to a show. On a personal note, I always love the fest, because it has always been on my birthday in past years. This is the first year where I will turn 22 two days before the music fest kicks off, but that’s OK – I’m just glad I’ll be 21 for the duration of the festival! (It helps, a LOT.)

A few bands have already been named for the 2009 Music Fest, including St. Vincent, Sage Francis and Anni Rossi. To keep up with all of the SxSW announcements of keynote speakers, performers and panel folk, you can follow them on twitter, but I think it’s more efficient to check out the Austin, TX Showlist and SxSW Baby!

Elijah Wood DJs at SxSW 2008 (Photo by aaron)

Elijah Wood DJs at SxSW 2008 (Photo by aaron)

One huge complaint about the festival is that it is incredibly expensive to attend, and that if you don’t have a badge or wristband, it’s almost impossible to get into shows. I always shell out the money for a badge, because – let’s be honest, this is all I do with my life. I paid $550 for my badge this year, which is definitely a huge sum of money that many can’t afford. Wristbands aren’t on sale yet, but they are usually upwards of $100, if memory serves me. *If* you just want to pay for a few shows, make sure you arrive at the venue REALLY, REALLY early – otherwise, you probably won’t get in. And if it’s a band like Vampire Weekend, who had so much buzz at the 2008 festival that honey came out of their noses, don’t bother; it is highly, highly unlikely you’ll make it in without a wristband or badge. What happens is, three lines are formed – a line for badges, a line for wristbands and a line for everyone else. The badge folk are let in first, followed by the wristband folk, and then everyone else. And as more and more badges show up, they’ll get trickled in to the already-moving lines. It can definitely seem unfair, but remember that badge people are usually industry people, and the bands really need them to see their sets and write about them/get excited about them, etc.

Keynotes should be announced soonish, so get excited about this festival! Hey, we start celebrating winter holidays way too early, why not celebrate an awesome music festival 3 months early?

How do you feel about SxSW? Lemme know!


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.

Map of 37th Street Lights

Map of 37th Street Lights

No Socks for Me.

SocksI hate socks.

Ever since I was little, if someone told me to make a list of things I hated, ‘socks’ would always be one of the top items on the list.
Worser socks are socks with toes. Even grosser are wet socks with toes.

Socks with toesSo, for me, it’s awesome that Austin has such warm, dry weather that we only need socks for maybe a month or two. I always hang on to my flip-flops as long as I can, and even in the coldest weather I still try to figure out ways to avoid wearing socks.

Most people in Texas will be thinking, ‘What’s the big deal about not wearing socks?’
Well, that’s because you’re in Texas. In other places, it is a huge deal. Places like Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania lies entirely within the humid continental zone, and has cold long winters and cool summers. Perfect weather for socks.
Apparently, they get so sick of socks that they have even declared May 8th as “No Socks Day.” says,

No Socks Day is a day to free your toes of the confines of socks and stocking. Give those toes of yours a breath of fresh air. The creators of this day also profess that No Socks Day will reduce your laundry load, and therefore, is healthy for the environment.
It’s easy to participate in No Socks Day. Just leave your socks and stocking off, and let your toes enjoy a moment in the sun!

It must be terrible up there, having to actually declare a day to not wear socks! I would be very unhappy living there.

Austin is the place for happy toes. So I love Austin!


Happy Toes

Interesting sidebar.. the guy who created No Socks Day is Tom Roy, who played the crazy street evangelist in the movie 12 Monkeys (an awesome movie, if I may say.).

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,


Holiday traveling.

Austin, being located in the middle of the state of Texas, is in a perfect location for beautiful day trips. Because it is now the holiday season, my dad and I went shopping for a pine tree today. To be honest, we drove from San Antonio, but since San Antonio is only about an hour and a half away from Austin, the tree place we went to would only add about ten minutes to your drive.

If you celebrate Christmas, Pipe Creek, Texas is a fantastic place to pick up your tree. The Pipe Creek Christmas Tree Farm is open until December 21st, and it is a wonderful farm with a huge spread of trees. The farm offers saws so you can cut your own trees, or you can get help from the workers there. There are also measuring sticks, because the farm charges by the foot. They also offer hayrides and, on specified dates, pictures with Santa!

This is the map to the farm.

This is the map to the farm.

The best thing about this farm is the drive. I highly, highly recommend getting onto TX 16, because the drive is gorgeous – hills scattered with red, yellow and orange treetops. It was perfect today, because the wintry clouds just barely kissed the hilltops. Please be careful when you’re driving along the winding roads, though – there was actually a fatal accident today.

Pretty drives to day-trip locations are absolutely something I love about Austin. What’s your favorite day trip? Let me know!

Happy Holidays,


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