If you’re the type of person who likes to show a lot of skin, February maybe isn’t your month. If anything, February is the month to show your fur … or wool … or plumage – ideally anything that doesn’t shrink or pucker in the cold weather. Face it: Skin doesn’t really look good cold. Goose pimples are humiliating enough on geese, so why would you think you could pull them off? And speaking of pulling off, what better way to honor the sacrifice of these formerly fuller-feathered fowl than by being down with the down? Down is crazy warm and just about anyone would agree you’re better off puffy than pimply. Still, if you absolutely insist on showing skin, why not show skin other than your own? Ideally you’ll want to shop outside the species on this one. Bos taurus is a good choice. You get more skin for your money, plus it’s been said that if you’re caught in a blizzard you can gut one, remove the entrails, and warm yourself inside the steaming carcass. Otherwise pretty much anything within the phylum Chordata will do. If you can make boots out of lizard skin then what’s to keep you from sewing together a duster made of Barton Spring Salamanders? Other than basic human decency and several sections of the Endangered Species Act of 1973? The key is keeping your own skin warm and supple, and if you have go with faux-skin to do it, there’s no shame in that either. There’s always Gore-Tex or polyester fleece or trash bags and duct tape – so regardless of your financial situation, you should never willfully weather the elements au naturel – unless you’re a Polar Bear or drunk and Russian or all three. Indoors, however, is another matter. You gotta let that epidermis breathe sometime, if only to briefly experience what it feels like to be in the Top 8 on God’s MySpace page – along with, of course, Tom, Tila Tequila, and some random metal band from L.A. If you’re tired of walking around the house in a thong and feather boa and want to expose your alabaster winter veneer to those of a like mind, you might want to cab it over to the Palmer Events Center this Saturday for the 30th Carnaval Brasileiro. Even if Latin music doesn’t twist your nipple, you’ll still find plenty to engage your senses at Carnaval. Expect a full night dancing, drumming, drinking, sweating, painting, and plumage … lots of plumage.
Holy shit, it’s winter! Of course, that doesn’t mean you should try and pitch an ice fishing tent on Town Lake, but it does mean you finally have a quasi-legitimate excuse to rock some socks with your Crocs. Note to sloth: There is no legitimate excuse, so don’t get cocky, crock jockey. Just because in Austin you can wear gym shorts and flip-flops 12 months out of the year doesn’t mean you should. There is comfort and then there is the pig-headed need to prove a point – sort of like when Yankees drive during an ice storm. Yes, the roads are passable, but once every 10 years or so Austin gets to have a snow day, and just because you consider yourself a skillful driver in inclement weather doesn’t mean you have to fuck it up for the rest of us. We’re all pissing ourselves with the prospect of sliding down muddy, ice crusted slopes on soggy pieces of cardboard, so if you’ve intrepidly motored your way into the office, keep it to yourself. There’s a gold star and a fluorescent orange hall monitor vest in your future. If the vest doesn’t keep you warm, your smug superiority will. With exception of the thong, most clothing items don’t make sense in Austin for about eight months out of the year, but even Leslie will throw on some hose and a stewardess jacket when it gets chilly. If you’re one of those types who is insistent on trying to wish away the weather by dressing like you’re headed to a rave in Ibiza, you might want to consult the man who pioneered the 12-month thong look in Austin: Leslie. He may be homeless, hairy, and liver-spotted like George Bush Sr. in the ’92 presidential debates, but he’s also a one-name local celebrity (except when he’s running for mayor). Recently he’s leveraged his cult status with his own dress-up magnet set and MySpace page (www.myspace.com/44499851). Impressive, eh? Point is, no one is more in tune with the shortcomings of fashion slavery than a crossdressing, beer swilling homeless guy, and if Leslie is willing to sacrifice his look for a little warmth, it probably wouldn’t kill you either. You don’t need to read the thermometer. Look at your nipples poking through your wife-beater. Baby it’s cold outside. Either layer up or stay indoors. If you choose the latter, you might want to do it at the Alamo Drafthouse this weekend because Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation is back in town. S&M’s Sick and Twisted is a compendium of cartoons you won’t see on Saturday mornings. Subjects range from insane to obscene and everything in between. This year’s festival includes classics from Dr. Tran and Happy Tree Friends as well as a Schoolhouse Rock style send-up called “My First Boner,” among others. Funny stuff. You might laugh so hard you’ll pee in your thong.
The beautiful thing about January is that the gyms are full of pasty chubbsters looking to get their fit on. It’s beautiful because they annoy the shit out of the full time narcissists who sometimes forget entirely that there are other people in the world. Other people come in all shapes, sizes, and types – one of those types are the people who park their shopping carts perpendicular in the aisle at the grocery store while they loiter at the sample table. These are the same ones who bogart the treadmills (set on “crawl”) at the gym. Yes Narcissus, there are other people in the world, and recent statistics show that 60% of them are overweight. That’s a disturbing figure to be sure, but since the majority of the exercise most people get these days is the digital dance their fingers do on their keyboards, it’s not surprising. Maybe someday we’ll evolve into something resembling a jellyfish, but for now we have to deal with a physiology that’s behind the evolutionary curve. If our bodies were evolving as fast as our minds, each of our hands would have ten fingers and our asses would be huge (come to think of it, maybe our bodies aren’t that far behind the evolutionary curve after all). Truth is, life in the third millennium doesn’t take a lot of physical effort, but fortunately we have technology to counteract the effects of technology. Treadmills, stair-steppers, stationary bikes, rowing machines, weight machines, and countless other ingenious contraptions make our bodies do what they were designed to do: move. Used to be people were able to move without the assistance of machines, but as the world gets smaller and people get larger, it’s probably best we have machines that can work us into a lather without taking up the valuable space of a basketball court, soccer field, or an 18 hole golf course. Maybe in the future we’ll just be working out to keep our bodies fit so that we can work out some more. No drama, no competition, just repetition. Bor-ing. Better enjoy the drama and competition while you can. For the next few weeks Hyde Park Theatre is hosting FronteraFest, a monthlong festival of fringe theatre that includes nearly every kind of performance imaginable: dance, improv, multimedia, music, films – you name it. This Saturday is the first Best of the Week, a night of performances selected as the best by audiences from each night of the previous week. Performances are short and snappy, clocking in at 25 minutes or less – about the same amount of time you would spend on a treadmill at the gym but less repetitive.
If you could put anything on your body, what would it be? Whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and the Budweiser Bikini Team? Almond oil and the Wilson brothers? A gimp suit and a ball gag? Or maybe you’re looking for something more permanent, something that says something about who you are and what you believe in. If you can condense all that into a two dimensional piece of art that fits nicely on your bicep, abs, or the space just above your asscrack, you’re probably a good candidate for a tattoo. Here’s the deal: Tattoos are cool – at least for the first 30 years or so, and after that, who wants to look at your body with the lights on anyway, right? But now, while you’re relatively young and smooth and open to suggestion, a colorful, inspirational message at the base of your spine seems like just the ticket to lure a hesitant lover to take a trip down the Hershey highway. Something like, “Bottoms up!” or “Next” or “Serenity now” could surely be incorporated into a breathtaking floral/Asian animé design. Don’t let your tabula rasa friends give you grief. Just because you have a tramp stamp above your whale tail doesn’t mean you’re a hoochie mama. It might just mean that you like to stand naked with your back to the mirror and your neck twisted around like Linda Blair in the Exorcist right before she cuts loose with the pea soup. Some people do yoga, right? Besides, tattoos can be pretty even if you’re a front loader. Who hasn’t dallied with the idea of a pretty red rose growing out of their treasure trail or turning their tallywhacker into a ferocious, fire breathing dragon? Really, the possibilities are as endless as the consequences are permanent, but if you need to see to believe, you’re going to want to make a trip down to the Palmer Auditorium for the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival, a three day extravaganza honoring the illustrators and the illustrated. In addition to an art gallery of tattoo designs, a tattoo contest, Suicide Girls, and Feature Car exhibits, expect to see lots of skin and ink: the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. Here’s the happy news however: If you’re looking for someone who’s not afraid of commitment, people with tattoos are right up your alley, even though your alley might be a little scary.
It seems perfectly reasonable that you should get lucky in ’07, so let’s run with that. Hey, maybe everybody will get lucky in ’07. Wouldn’t that be freaky? Then again, something like that might be a sign of the impending apocalypse, a sort of Godly reach-around for the flesh-loving heathens right before the rapture. He could at least give you that, couldn’t He? Or maybe you don’t believe in luck at all. Maybe you’re one of those people who make their own luck – one of those firm handshaking types with bleached teeth, an encyclopedic knowledge of self-help books, and a fitness regimen that requires setting your alarm clock for 4:30 in the a.m. You don’t need luck. You’re already lucky. You’ll probably live to be 120. Oh joy, oh sweet, sweet bliss. The rest of us, however are fluffy white feathers being buffeted by the winds of fortune until we come to rest next to Forrest Gump’s shoe. Yes, life is like a box of chocolates, as long as some of the chocolates taste like shit and have rocks in the middle. Even the most irrepressible optimist has to admit it’s not all sweet. Most people have to eat a lot of shit before they get to the sweet stuff. Maybe that’s why the moments of sweetness are often attributed to luck. Of course, luck depends a lot on your perspective. If you’re able to get right with waking up at 4:30 in the morning (which most people might see as eating one of those shit-covered rocks) you can probably twist your mind into believing damn near anything, including believing you’re lucky. That, as nearly as anyone has figured out, is the key to luckiness: Feeling lucky. You probably have a lot of reasons to feel lucky, so just consider the ’07 thing icing on the cake. Who knows, it might be the thing that puts you over. Or it could be the Viva Las Vegas screening at Alamo Drafthouse Downtown this Monday. Elvis’ birthday is the biggest post-holiday celebration in Austin, and this Alamo screening features an Elvis impersonation contest (the lucky winner gets a bucket of beer) plus an optional Elvis feast that includes fried peanut butter and banana sammiches, corn bread soak, and meatloaf. Later, if you can shake off your carbo coma, you can attend the Dale Watson Elvis Birthday celebration at the Continental Club – all for one low price of $26. If you can’t feel lucky about that then ’07 may not be your year.
This year, New Year’s Eve falls on the Lord’s Day, which is surely happy news for recidivist 12-stepping alcoholics, but for the rest of us, it requires an extra step of irksome planning. Part of the fun of New Year’s is that last-minute run to the liquor store to grab a frantic armload of hooch for the evening – liquors you purchase by color rather than label or name; those last remaining off-brand bottles distilled in tin-sheds by toothless hillbillies in remote hollers in Arkansas, Tennessee, and West Virginia; the kind of stuff you don’t take out of the paper bag until your friend screams incredulously between convulsive fits of projectile vomiting, “What was that shit?!” Of course, that’s only part of the fun, but if that’s the fun you’re into – that being a profound state of drunkenness nearly worth the wicked hangover – you’ll need to cross the threshold of a liquor store no later than 8:59pm Saturday night. Texas is God’s country, and God, according to Texas statutes, don’t roll on the Yom Rishon. He don’t get his drink on neither – except in certain counties like Travis, home of Austin, the “Sodom of the Southwest.” Bottom line is that if you procrastinate like most respectable alcoholics, you’re going to end up underserved come Sunday night. That ain’t right. You don’t want to be wearing the elastic banded cone paper party hat sober. You don’t want to blow the duck whistle without wetting your own. You can’t do justice to a garbled Gaelic clusterfuck of lyrics like “Auld Lang Syne” with a blood alcohol content less than .10, and you certainly won’t want to engage in a spirited tonsil hockey match with a total stranger at the stroke of midnight unless the booze has got your back. Roger? Of course, you could do all the preceding sober, but then the fun onus is on you. You’d have to dream up something pretty spectacular to wipe out the memory of being a designated driver. Chin up DD, the Drafthouse has something for you. New Year’s Eve they’re hosting a skate party at Playland featuring the K-Tel Hit Machine and Tosca Strings covering tunes from the Electric Light Orchestra. Skating goes from 9-11pm and a dance follows. Seventies disco attire is recommended, skating drunk is not, but oh, the memories.
If Abercrombie and Fitch wanted to really be controversial, they would put up a huge billboard next to I-35 featuring Santa’s shirtless, unripped, extruded pink torso in some red denim hip huggers with the fly unzipped…just enough to expose his snowy white treasure trailhead, but not enough to free the salty Cyclops, as it were. That, would be controversial. That would be a billboard worth getting rear-ended under (pause here, meditate on your compulsive need to pop off with some sort of anal sex bon mot). Instead, this holiday season A&F has taken the high road, pushing well-defined, shirtless torsos; taut, hairless, bas relief renditions of the type of fundamental abdominal musculature we all possess, albeit under several inches of luxurious adipose insulation. Kudos to A&F for focusing on what’s really important: our similarities. Instead of adopting a divisive “we-are-all-snowflakes” marketing mentality like other companies, A&F is saying, “Regardless of all the cellulite, hair, stretchmarks, moles, and poorly thought out tattoos, deep inside we’re all the same … we’re all ripped.” Genius. Ralph Lauren must be suicidal for not thinking of it first. Just because you almost never see a shirtless, svelte twentysomething pimping an unzipped parka, doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. This is Austin. We may be a little light on parkas, but any town where Matthew McConaughey routinely parks his trailer is ripe for shirtlessness. Give A&F some credit: they could have gone for some slick, CGI animation of bare, bloody musculature, but instead they went classy and used only slightly photoshopped models with smooth bronzed skin, smoldering, steely eyed gazes and perfectly round, tiny brown nipples. If you can’t see yourself in an A&F model, maybe you aren’t looking hard enough, or maybe you need to look somewhere else entirely. How about the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar? Anywhere you go shopping during the holidays you’re going to encounter a disturbing cross-section of humanity, but the Bazaar boasts a disturbing cross section of old Austin hippie humanity, which though wrinkly and long-winded is at least colorfully noncorporate. Plus you get the classic Austin reach-around of live music. Christmas Eve features Django’s Moustache, a Hot Greezy Gonzo Reunion, and the Texana Dames. Admit it, you weren’t planning on doing your shopping until then anyway, were you?
How can Christmas get you laid? Good question. A holiday predicated on immaculate conception doesn’t exactly scream crazy monkey sex. Sure, there are elves, assorted jingly livestock, sprigs of mistletoe and hot toddies throughout the season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to end up in a Motel 6 with a grease gun full of K-Y and a combination of any of the preceding. You have to work for that kind of scenario. A lot of people like to rev up their mack at the office Christmas party. Why not? Getting drunk with co-workers is always a win-win situation right up to the morning after. And, as the song says, there has to be one, so you might as well do something that will earn you at least a year’s worth of hushed murmurs as you walk by the water cooler. If there is one occasion where it’s nearly appropriate to unleash a drunken, maudlin soliloquy about your undying love for the hot blonde in personnel, the OCP is it. Or, maybe it’s time you let that stud in accounting know that loose lips may sink ships, but they perform some other pretty amazing feats as well. Don’t hold back, nearly all questionable behavior is forgivable when you’re drinking on the company dime, so if you get caught in the supply closet dry-humping the boss’ wife, make sure to mention right up front that you are cursed with an alcohol dependency disability that is covered by your group health policy. Remember: The first step is admitting that you have a problem. The second step should be quick and to the right – to avoid your boss’ wildly thrown right-cross haymaker. In the workplace it’s always best to have a strategy for success, especially when you’re drinking. Nonetheless, if you’re one of those overly cautious types who doesn’t like to shit where you eat, other opportunities abound. For instance, this Friday at the Coldtowne Theater, Jerm Pollet of the Sinus Show is hosting Merry F***king Xmas, a screening of Christmas-themed porn films with analysis and commentary by Jerm himself. Think of it this way, if you can’t get laid this Christmas, at least you can watch. If you want to get drunk however, you’ll need to BYO toddie.
Austin isn’t much of a winter wonderland. Sure, we get a little cold snap every now and then – just enough to make the green thumb paranoids cover their flora with moving/dog/smallpox blankets and old HEB bags; just enough for annoying small children to pretend like they’re smoking imaginary cigarettes; just enough to turn a respectably sized penis into a tiny, wrinkled, shriveling turtle neck or full supple nipples into the shape and texture of mechanical pencil erasers; but we never get the kind of lip welding arctic blasts enjoyed by our northern neighbors. That’s OK. Chances are you didn’t move here for the ice fishing. What we do have in garish profundity however is holiday decoration. Lights, in particular. Lights in general. Lights infinite. Where your bigger, generic burbs tend to express their schmaltz with huge, inflatable lighted replicas of Christmas characters like Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, and the dear, sweet, 8 pound, 6 ounce newborn baby Jesus (pre-inflated), Austinites decorate like they just smoked a bag of Maui and beer-bonged a quart of mushroom tea: Lights everywhere. On the house, the shrubs, the trees, the lawn, the car, the cat, and the holiday themed, blinking Bobby Brooks sweater (purchased at Goodwill, of course – buying it new would be … just … so … pathetic). Also, unlike our suburban sprawling red state relatives, we keep our lights up year round, not just because we’re still stoned but because we’re also lazy and we don’t give a shit. Besides, lights are pretty year round, and if you buy the kind that look like little jalapenos, you get a pass for the other 11 months – especially if you own a Mexican restaurant. So, what we lack in chilliness we make up for in artsyness, and if we seem misty-eyed about the holidays, it’s only because we just squirted on some eye drops so we could go take a toasted twirl under the Zilker Christmas tree. Hey, some holiday traditions are hard to shake, especially when they involve breathless spinning. That may explain why Whole Foods’ rooftop ice skating rink is back again for a second year. Of course, it might also just be ruthless greed whoring capitalism, but whatever the case, it’s nice to be able to lace up and test your triple lux, even if it’s 85 and balmy. Hey, if you can’t live in a winter wonderland, buy one! One caution: If you’re going to mack at the skating rink, don’t try to act all cool. The only thing more hilarious than busting your ass on a public skating rink is being pissed off about it.
Spending the holidays broke and homeless was good enough for Jesus, but here in America that dog won’t hunt. We have an economy to think about. We have an $8.6 trillion deficit. We can’t spend the holiday season staggering around, wassailing, singing carols, and swapping spit under the mistletoe. December was meant to be spent spending – not at tittie bars, porn shops and racetracks, but at shopping malls and big-box behemoths like Ikea and Best Buy; places where we can get cheap, foreign-made consumer goods and pay for them on credit. Peace and joy are all well and good, but peace and joy don’t keep our boys in body armor, tax dollars do, and the best way to increase tax dollars is to kick-start the economy with rampant, mindless spending – the same kind of fiscal irresponsibility that gave us an $8.6 trillion deficit. Shit, Jesus wouldn’t even know what to do with that kind of money. Fishes and loaves? Please. Try blowing $8.6 trillion on fishes and loaves. You couldn’t spend $8.6 trillion on caviar and crackers, and even if you could, people would be too bloated and sleepy to even start a decent food fight, much less a full-scale insurgency. Besides, feeding the hungry isn’t how the American government rolls. Think about it this way: You can teach a hungry man to fish, but that takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. However, if you shoot a hungry man, he stops eating for the rest of his life. Bottom line is that humanitarian aid requires too much customer service and has very limited profitability. Halliburton has never received a no-bid contract to run soup kitchens in Mosul and it’s unlikely the Pentagon will ever pay $400 for a Salisbury steak. Sure, you might be able to win hearts and minds with humanitarian aid, but the only way to be sure you’re winning hearts and minds is to zip them into body bags. Body bags, and the ordinance to fill them up cost a lot of cheese, so spend, spend, spend. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit … or you could join John Aielli Saturday night for his holiday sing-along and tree lighting ceremony at the Capitol. John was born around the time of Jesus himself and he’s an accomplished vocalist, so he knows what he’s doing. That alone is a rare commodity at the Capitol. Also, unlike shopping, the sing-along is free, but you’re encouraged to bring money or food donations for the Capital Area Food Bank so they can hand them out to the broke and homeless and save a few bullets.