Monday, January 31, 2011

"(Some) Lawyers Are Pigs" According To Lunatic

Everyday around 5pm, I drive past the corner of South Lamar and Barton Springs Road, where I see this pink figure:

What on Earth is this man doing in a pink suit, waving to people, flagging down cars, yelling things in the street and manically waving his sign?

Ahh, of course. Constructive criticism.

His name is Eric A. Anderson, and over the past 20 years he has dressed up as a vampire, a chicken, a Revolutionary War patriot, a judge, and a pirate to preach the word about lawyers. He's even spent time outside the Austin City Council meetings in a cockroach suit waving a sign that says, "Warning. This courthouse is infested with lawyers." But alas, I've only witnessed the pig.

What's his problem with lawyers? "They can sit at their desk for three hours and take a nap, and they can charge you for three hours of billable work, and you cannot prove whether they worked three hours or have taken a nap," he says. Sounds like somebody thinks they were overbilled.

He's doing an excellent job of Keeping Austin Stark Raving Mad.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Le Garage Sale

This weekend I'll be dropping by Le Garage Sale, a city-wide clearance sale for independent designers and boutiques in Austin, held at the Palmer Events Center on both Saturday and Sunday. Over 50 local, independently-owned shops will be representing, clearing out last season's stuff to make way for new merchandise, including jewelry, handbags, hats, shoes, and coats and apparel for men, women and children, as well as home furnishings and beauty tools. And all under one roof! It's a $10 cover, which really isn't bad when you consider the treasure hunt that awaits you. There's also a full bar and DJ!

Images from last year's Le Garage Sale via keepaustinstylish

See you there!

Friday, January 28, 2011

How Texans Party

Here's a little Friday video to get you excited about the weekend: Dallas cover band Time Machine doing Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" at the Pyramid Lounge in downtown Dallas. The band is fine, but the real show-stealers are the elderly couple getting down in the front. Lighter move? GENIUS.

Happy Friday, y'all!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Would You Eat This Cheese? Texans Would Eat This Cheese.

Shopping in my local grocery store, I came across this:

Normally you don't find unmarked vacuum-sealed baggies of food in the grocery store, so I traced it back to the source.

I found more in a prominent display. For only $4.98, you can get a pound of Texas-shaped Colby Jack Cheese, sans label, nutrition information, and ingredients.

Have you ever stood in the dairy section of your local grocery store for 10 minutes, holding multiple bags of unmarked food products, staring in awe and disbelief? People started side-eyeing me when I started taking pictures.

Stunning. Living in Texas is stunning.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vintage Rodeo Pics

rodeo (noun) - a public exhibition of cowboy skills, as bronco riding and calf roping

And then some.

"Skyrocket versus Calgary Red" 1917

"Hank Durnel Strutting His Stuff" 1924

"Kit McGrokey on Tropper"

"Bareback Riding?"

"Leonard Stroud Riding 'Chief' Over Auto"

"At A Boy Mose" 1917

And my personal favorite, the badass cowgirl:

"Bonnie McCarrol Thrown From Silver"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Awful, Artful Texan Pride

Ok, so I know I'm always going on about how weird the Texan superiority complex is (here, here, here, and here), but I've finally found a way that I'm able to embrace it - through super bad, totally bizarre, extremely nationalistic (state-alistic?) arts, crafts, and decorations. Take a look at these odes and accolades to the Lone Star State:

The Ornamental:

Just your run-of-the-mill GIGANTIC YARD DECORATION.

Texan hippie art. This would look great next to a crystal collection or lava lamp.

The opposite of Texas hippie art. This is a wall decoration. What about if Grandpa has a heart attack? Do Texans shoot him?

A special little Christmas ornament for the tree. Loving the glitter lasso!

The Absurd:

I suspect Van Gogh would be pleased with this adaptation, no?

No way, no where better to give approbations than with beer bottle caps inside a men's room.

I suppose it's very "come hither" to natives?

The Fashion:

The ubiquitous "Texas-is-greater-than-everything-else" t-shirts...this one looks a little ominous for Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas...

This one's just slightly aggressive. For Texas, that is.

And this one's on my Christmas list. HELL YES, WINDBREAKER.

To be fair, I love shitty, extravagant, and silly art, so it's all pretty awesome to me (...kind of). But I can't help but feel that sometimes it goes too far. Texas pride tattoos are constantly being peacocked around (I suppose it is mostly summer in this state), and the pervasive ornamental crap is inescapable, not to mention visual assaults from jerks in cursing t-shirts. I am constantly struggling with this sort of bombastic display of superiority, coming from one of the other 49 states that places little to no emphasis on how awesome it is (Pennsylvania, where is your t-shirt?). Where is this lesson in state chauvinism enculturated? Why is it so prominent here compared to other states? Why the fierce loyalty and aggressive propaganda?

Seriously, WTF.

Creative EcoSpaces and Design

The flora of the Hill Country region of Texas is amazingly diverse. A wide variety of trees grow among many types of cacti and desert flowers. Grass, rocks, shrubs, and sand cover the ground. Besides the variance of vegetation, a particularly unique aspect of the region is how the beauty of the environment affects the edificial construction, with inhabitants using deliberate measures to blend nature with man-made facilities.

The trend of the area is to remain unobtrusive to the eye, yet artfully interesting. Combining natural, native materials with creative design allows the neighborhoods to blend harmoniously with their environment's surroundings, while retaining a certain aesthetic charm. Here are a few scenes from my neighborhood:

These neighbors purposely use the same wood in their fence that grows as trees in their front yard, which is soothingly accordant.

This house uses the same wood in a different style. So much prettier than chain link.

This house makes an environmentally-conscious statement in a completely different way. It's is a particular favorite of mine, ingeniously incorporating old recycled windows as parts of their fence. The whole thing looks rather magical, don't you think?

With a tiny white picket fence to boot!

Reusing the windows and doors makes the house feel welcoming and whimsical, showing how creative recycling can be aesthetically appealing and good for the Earth.

These neighbors carved out a shady sitting spot from a heavily wooded area in their front yard, perfect for summertime gatherings.

These lucky children have a suh-weet lookout spot, complete with pulley system and ominous sign. So much more interesting than a plastic clubhouse!

Out of context, the whole neighborhood might look like a spot far out in the suburbs. Actually, it is part of bustling South Austin, a mixed-use commerce and residential zone very much within the city limits, approximately ½-4 miles from downtown. That's what so nice about Austin. The city is less concrete and dense, giving space for vegetation and growth. Businesses and residents alike strive to preserve and enhance the surrounding flora, combining man made necessities with natural greenery.

These guys will flower and bloom beautifully once it gets a little warmer.

Agave giants! They just look super cool.

Kudos to Austinites for implementing eco-friendly designs. Even on a chilly winter day, the city looks conscientious, beautiful, and green.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chicken Shit Bingo

It's Sunday afternoon, you're worn out from praising at church, filled up from a migas-and-enchiladas brunch, and ready for some live music and drinks with friends. What better place to go then the state-famous Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon? Ginny has no website, probably because she is busy replacing the duct-taped bar stools and eight-track machine, but she certainly has a following.

Writes The Onion's A.V. Club: "Ginny’s is roughly the size of a two-car garage and there are only nine tables; by the time the band starts at 4, the party is spilling out from both ends into the parking lot, where grizzled regulars rub elbows with slumming hipsters and curious tourists. Before the main event begins, load up on $2 bottles of Lone Star and free hot dogs, but be advised that the self-serve frankfurter station is no place for squeamish types plagued by visions of grubby hands ripping through buns and sloshing around in relish. The musical entertainment alone is worth the nonexistent price of admission, with rootsy country acts like Dale Watson, Redd Volkaert, and Gary Claxton And Flat Top Jones boom-chicka-booming the crowd into a ramblin’, gamblin’ mood well before bingo tickets go on sale around 5 p.m."

Everyone is gathered for the main event: Texas' answer to craps? Literal crap. A 9′ x 6′ checkerboard is laid out on a pool table, each square on the board has a number. The chicken is released. You drink your Lone Star, eat your hot dog, listen to the music, and wait for the chicken to shit. If the poop lands on the number that corresponds with your number, you win.

Monday night is Dominoes.

Living in Texas is so. Fucking. Weird.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Freedom From The Cage

The Inside Books Project is an awesome non-profit donating free books to correctional institutions in the state of Texas. Did you know Texas houses over 160,000 inmates? That's a lot of offenders who need some educational materials, not to mention the freedom and mental stimulation that comes from reading. Prison libraries are a haphazard collection of heavily censored materials, and most books are pulp fiction or religious in nature. Says Inside Books, "Many facilities have little or nothing to offer in important areas like African-American and Mexican-American history, GED and other standardized test training, coping with specific medical conditions, and art/craft instruction."

Inside Books also states, "If prisons were meant for purposes of rehabilitation, that goal has long since been lost to dehumanization and punishment. IBP is, at times, the only connection prisoners have to educational opportunities and communication with the outside...Until we are no longer separated by concrete and barb wire, IBP envisions itself as a gateway between prisoners and the outside community, where both can enrich their lives, empower, strengthen, and educate."

How to help:

If you live in Texas: Come to one of the volunteer sessions (based in Austin) to help answer book requests and mail packages. We currently hold volunteer nights Thursday and Sundays from 8-11pm at Space 12. You can also become a book donation site!

Outside of Texas: They are always in need of donations of both books and money. Office supplies are also taken! You can donate via PayPal here. All donations are tax-deductible.

Most commonly requested books include:

  • Dictionaries (English, Spanish-English, and Law)
  • Thesauri
  • Almanacs
  • Texas Criminal Law
  • Native American / Latino / African and African-American history, politics, culture
  • GED or Basic Education Materials
  • Foreign Language (Spanish)
  • How-to books (art, carpentry, any trades, business, etc.)
  • Westerns
  • Mythology
  • Wicca
  • Up-to-date science books, especially math

Don't bogart the Wicca books!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reading This Post On Your Commute?

The traffic situation in Austin is pretty weird/kinda terrible. Compared to most cities, traffic and parking aren't such a problem. This isn't Atlanta or Los Angeles. But, living here, it can get on your nerves, especially since Austin is moderately-sized. Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio can blame their massive sprawl. So what's the problem with Austin?

Austin was never built as a "dense" city; the streets were never planned as more than country roads to lead to or through the core. Therefore, Austin has missed out on some of the benefits of urban density - street trees, multi-use zones, sidewalks, bike lanes, etc. With Austin's booming population growth, trying to reclaim and manage urban planning this way is both noble and worthy, helping alleviate traffic, pollution, and environmental degradation, not to mention making the city more aesthetically pleasing.

Luckily, Austin is a progressive town, pushing bicycling, walking, carpooling, and public transit as ways to beat the commute, rather than pushing to build more highways. The New York City-based progressive think tank Drum Major Institute recently ranked Austin, with their passage of Proposition 1, in their top ten Best City Policies of 2010.

"Some business leaders pushed for a conventional response to congestion: wider roads and more highways. But the city opted to go down a different path. Recognizing that they could never build enough highways to eliminate traffic congestion, lawmakers instead put a $90 million bond issue on the ballot to improve Austin’s existing streets and make them more hospitable to pedestrians and bicycles."

The long list of improvements are listed here, including multi-use boardwalks around the lake, more bike paths on major veins, more funding to mass transit, express lanes help diverge some of the congestion on the Mo-Pac Expressway and I-35, corner curb ramps, wider sidewalks (in some cases, simply, sidewalks!), street trees, street lighting, benches, bicycle racks, and trash cans! Bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists, residents, rejoice!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ass' Night Out

From the Herald Sun:

"Two men charged with driving while intoxicated had their charges dropped after police arrested them for riding a horse and mule down a crowded street in downtown Austin, Texas. Jose Rios, 33, and Samuel Olivo Jr, 48, were caught riding a horse and mule on a busy city street. The two were coaxing passers-by to take pictures and pet their horse and mule. Police said the two were impeding traffic and could have caused an accident. Officers conducted a field sobriety test on the two and then charged them with driving while intoxicated.

Those charges were later dropped for both Mr Rios and Mr Olvio because the legal definition of a motor vehicle in relation to DWI charges is too vague, but Mr Rios was charged with public intoxication. Officers had to transfer the horse and mule to a nearby animal centre until they could get better accommodation at Elgin animal hospital, about 42km from Austin."

Just a typical Friday night in Texas.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Do Texans Wear?

Since I've moved to Texas, I've gotten a lot of questions about the style here, the number one being, "Does everyone dress like cowboys?" While the answer is of course, no (though you certainly do see the look a lot), the influence of Western style is certainly prevalent in the wardrobes of the locals. Mixed up with classic and modern pieces, Texan style looks relaxed, comfortable, unique, and definitely fashionable.

Living in Texas, there are some quintessential items you need to add to your wardrobe in order to achieve typical Texan style: boots, denim, turquoise, bright colors, and fringe.


What's great about Texas wardrobes is that often light, delicate, feminine items get mixed into play with chunky, tough, masculine items, giving them casual appeal and an effortless look.

From what I've seen, these are a few of Texan's favorite things:

Mexican clothing: the detail of this exquisite hand-craftsmanship is amazing, colorful, and fun, great for the pool or a party.

Throw a leather jacket over a traditional Mexican embroidered tunic or pair with boots, bright tights, or belts for a more trendy look.
Asian Full Length Embroidered Skirt, Vintage Purple Frye Boots, Thrifted Leather Biker Jacket, Fringe Shirt Dress Aa

Jewelry: lots of simple, chunky, silver jewelry, often set with desert stones. Wood bangles. Religious talismans. Men and women wear big rings. Cuff links on men are standard for everyday wear. The same goes for brooches on women.


Hats: the sun is so strong here that people wear all sorts of hats, all the time. The cowboy hat is standard, but all sorts are fashionable here in Texas. Just like everything else here, the bigger the better. I'm more partial to the Indian Jones style, personally.

Other burgeoning/ongoing trends:

Facial hair on men

Short hair with flashy headbands:

High, messy hair buns with flowers

Belts: thin or thick, with or without a chunky buckle, often weaved

Light, flowing dresses:

Leather and suede skirts: often tailored or pencil

Striped engineer denim:

Vests: for boys and girls

more often than not it's real in Texas

Any other insights or tips from Texans are much appreciated. Leave it in the comments!