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Livable Vision Awards Party

May 13, 2008

There must be something like 5K road races in Austin every year. Seriously. Anyone with a working ink-jet printer and a box of safety pins seems to host some value of K. There are even kids’ Ks and dog Ks – which might lead you to ask: What the hell’s up with all the Ks, yo? It’s simple: “K” is short for “kilometer,” and runners don’t have the time or breath to pronounce huge, multisyllabic words like “kilometer,” much less spell them out. Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re a runner, and you’re blowing past some panting, purple-faced quitter who blurts out, “How far is it to the next first aid station?” You could stop and attempt to render assistance but that would shave precious seconds off your finish time, and you would be mortified to come in any lower than 6,543rd place, so instead you simply bark, “2K.” Problem solved – well, that one at least, but there’s also the larger problem of so many people exercising … and even worse … talking about exercising. Sure, exercise is a common thread in the modern human experience but so is breathing and taking a shit, either of which are infinitely more fascinating than hearing some hard-bodied half-wit drone on endlessly about her workout. What happened to the simpler times when exercising was more like masturbation – something to be done privately and in shame? Shame because back in the day a real job demanded a Herculean amount of effort – the kind of backbreaking toil that kept you from flabbing up like a sissy. If you happened to be one of those unfortunate bean counters with an embarrassingly cushy desk job, you spent your weekends doing something productive like chopping wood or digging potholes. Exercising for the sake of fitness alone was the type of limp-wristed bourgeois narcissism best left to Europeans and ancient Greeks. Sure, people still worked out, some even shamelessly and in public, but it wasn’t something you talked about outside of a confession booth. And really, admitting to anyone that you’re trying to sculpt your glutes should be worth at least 10 Hail Marys and a dozen Lord’s Prayers, minimum. No, there’s nothing inherently sinful about the sporting life – if Jesus were alive today, he would probably be on the pro-barefoot skiing circuit – but there’s nothing particularly virtuous about it either. Would the Lord rather see you run a marathon or spend the same energy framing houses with Habitat for Humanity? Admit it, running is a hugely narcissistic endeavor anyway, isn’t it? Unless you’re carrying an important message to your field commander or just shoplifted some food for your starving family, running is all about you. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but if you feel the urge to share the experience at a cocktail party, stifle it. That’s what blogs are for. Besides, talking about your workout is sort of like patting yourself on the ass for your self indulgence. Every once in a while it wouldn’t kill you to pat someone else on the ass (unless it’s verboten in the employee handbook), would it? Well here’s your chance: This Wednesday, May 21, from 6pm to 7:30pm at the Carver Museum, Liveable City will be hosting their annual Livable Vision Awards Party, which recognizes the contributions of local businesses and organizations in making Austin a more livable community (i.e., and even better place to host a few K more Ks). You’ve always wanted to check out the Carver Museum anyway, haven’t you? It’s right off the bus line, but if you live in Central Austin, it’s only a few K away, so you might as well jog.

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Movies in the Park at Republic Square

May 6, 2008

If you’re looking to get laid, it’s always best to have a reliable wingman. You can fly solo, but it amps up your creep factor considerably. Other than a handful of tight-lipped cinematic tough guys like John Wayne, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood, mysterious loner types don’t have a good track record. They’re always stacking bodies down in the crawl space, cooking their victims up with fava beans, luring little kids into windowless vans, and perforating the skulls of innocents with stunbolt guns. Loner chicks don’t exactly inspire a vote of confidence, either. How about Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? Or Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians? What is it with Glenn Close and small, defenseless animals? No doubt the casting director figured that if Glenn didn’t mind boiling a bunny, she probably wouldn’t have a problem with stitching up a puppy coat. And really, as crazy as that bitch was, you have to admit the coat was pimpin’, yo. This is not to say that groups of people don’t do some crazy shit on occasion (Bush … twice?), but generally the group dynamic includes a normalizing effect. Maybe if John Wayne Gacy had a few more friends, one of them might have chimed in with “Dude, you definitely have a dead animal in your crawl space” – or maybe one of them actually did and ended up there. Regardless, no matter how pure your intentions, no matter how mentally sound you are on paper, if you roll up to a party in a dented cargo van wearing a clown suit, most sane people will scatter like cockroaches. The only way you’re going to get anyone to come near you is to whip up a breathtaking menagerie of balloon animals. So, yes, at the very least a wingman is important – especially when trolling for strange. Ideally your wingman is a trusted friend and not some homeless person you lured along with the promise of a convenience-store rotisserie hot dog and a 40-ounce malt liquor. People judge you by who you hang out with, which is why your wingman should be cute, but not so hot that people will want to fuck him. He should also know when to keep his mouth shut. That story about the time you had freaky motel sex with that chick with huge hands and an Adam’s apple may be hilarious, but when it comes to impressing the ladies, you might as well be wearing a blood-stained clown suit. It’s hard enough to find good friends, but finding a good wingman is even harder. That’s why a lot of people choose to get a puppy, instead. Everybody loves puppies (with the exception of maybe Glenn Close, who loves them in a different way). Everybody wants to pet them, too. They’re like furry, little magnets for the opposite sex. It’s true that they eventually grow up, get fatter and lazier, and develop halitosis, but even the ugliest dog beats no dog at all – especially if you tie a DayGlo bandanna around its neck. Plus, getting a dog is much easier than making a friend. Finding friends takes a lot of time and effort, but all you have to do to find a dog is visit your local animal shelter. Sure, there’s also the many years of feeding, walking, washing, and following it around with a plastic bag, but if you’re friendless in the first place, it might help with your character development. This weekend you can get further instruction on the care and feeding of your wingman at Republic Square Park, where the Austin Parks Foundation and the Alamo’s Rolling Roadshow are screening Christopher Guest’s classic, Best in Show. This bring-your-wing event also includes dog training demos, dog agility demos, silly pet tricks, and giveaways from Emancipet, the city’s Scoop the Poop Program (huh?), Lofty Dog, and the Austin Parks Foundation. You could come solo, but if you do you might want to bring a pocketful of skinny balloons.

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B Scene

Ap[ril 29, 2008

To say that Texans have a bit of a cultural chip on their shoulders is a gross understatement – sort of like saying there’s not much fresh air in outer space or that the KKK is racially insensitive. The ugly truth is that the folks who settled Texas were pretty much riff-raff: Immigrants, opportunists, criminals, rubes, and other desperate types looking for the big score – sort of like Qua on a Saturday night. Sounds like a lot of fun, until you realize the shark tank dance floor is just chump bait for gold diggers and leased Lexus douche bags with nugget jewelry. Back in the day, of course, clubbing was an entirely different activity, and when people sported nuggets, it didn’t mean they were frontin’, it just meant they had poor hygiene. Most importantly, there wasn’t a lot of high art going on, which is understandable. When you’ve spent the whole day busting sod in the Panhandle, chopping cedar in the Hill Country, or slogging through an East Texas swamp hunting nutria, it tends to put the kibosh on your artistic oeuvre. Though some would have you believe differently, art isn’t a necessity; it’s a luxury. Art is what you do when your stomach is full and you’re not freezing to death or parched with thirst or trying to outrun a vicious mountain lion. Happily, all of that early industriousness and opportunism eventually paid off, and today Texans are able to buy all the art their hearts and tax accountants desire. Except … most Texans wouldn’t know what art was even if it smacked them in the head like an oak two-by-four (which might, in fact, be folk art if it was colorfully painted by a toothless, barefoot Appalachian illiterate). Furthermore, Texans generally don’t care that they don’t know art … until they get some money or some edumacation or both. That’s when things really get ugly, and the cultural pissing match begins. Just because ol’ Jed became a billionaire without the advantage of a high school diploma doesn’t mean he doesn’t have culture. In fact, he’s probably got bigger and better culture than any Art History major from Wellesley – and if he doesn’t, he’s willing to pay for it. Nobody out-cultures a Texan, which goes a long way in explaining why Texas is blessed with some of the finest art museums in the nation. One of them, the Blanton, is right down on MLK. Not only is the Blanton the third largest museum in Texas, it’s also the largest university art museum in the country – might have something to do with the fact that its genesis was a $12 million gift from Houston “Endowment” Inc. Regardless, eat it, New York. Texas wins. We’re crazy sick with culture. If you want to see for yourself, you can for 10 bucks this Friday, at the Blanton’s monthly B Scene party. Not only can you check out the Blanton’s wicked big art collection, you can nosh on complimentary hors d’oeuvres, drink “Blantinis,” watch a sample theatrical piece from the Fuse Box Festival, and groove to the sound of Austin’s own Future Clouds & Radar. This deal is totally worth the money. Aren’t you glad Austin is endowed?

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Lone Star State Jam

April 22, 2008

It’s a good thing Texans were smart enough to put in all those toll roads before gas got so expensive. We probably couldn’t even afford to build them now what with the economy swirling down the toilet. Imagine what it would cost to haul all that concrete these days. Fortunately, folks around here were farsighted enough to plan for the future, which is why we built six lanes of toll road access to pastureland out in Manor. Fuck it. People are eventually going to get tired of those breathtaking West Austin Hill Country views and demand to live downwind from the dump and closer to the flea market. Sooner or later, those happy rubes out in Lakeway are going to grow weary of driving their Hummers and Escalades up those steep grades and swap them for Smart Cars and solar-powered manufactured green housing. It’s only a matter of time. Meanwhile, think of all the money and gas we’re saving as we whoosh down those huge empty concrete slabs in our Tex-tagged, half-ton four-wheel drive extend-a-cabs on the way to the office. It’s a long, lonely drive, but when you own a rugged half-acre of well-graded, treeless suburbia, you need a vehicle with a headache rack, a chrome-plated brush guard, and all-terrain mud tires that can negotiate a 5% incline driveway and tow your his-and-hers Sea-Doos out to the boat ramp at Carlos’n Charlie’s. Yes, it’s painful to have to shell out the better part of a hundie every week at the Tiger Mart, but it beats the indignity of having to share personal space at the Park-n-Ride with all those state worker commuter chumps. Plus, where would you put your matching “Bud” and “Sissy” personalized Texas license plates? And do you think that those new light-rail commuter trains are going to have gun racks, spittoons, or deer-poaching spotlights? Think again. They’ll probably have Internet access, though, which will be really nice when gas hits $10 a gallon and the only economical way to get to your big suburban spread will be by train or mule. Now might be a good time to get right with public transportation – maybe learn to interact with real people on a daily basis, learn how to be friendly again. That’s what Texas is all about anyway, isn’t it? Friendliness? Isn’t that our state motto or something? It’s also a town in Texas, but you probably can’t afford to drive there. Instead, you could take the bus down to Waterloo Park this Saturday for the Lone Star State Jam, a full day of Texas and Red Dirt (code word: Oklahoman) music benefiting Young Texans Against Cancer and the Dell Children’s Medical Center. Tickets are $32.50, but that’s way less than you’d spend driving to Friendship, and you get to see these exciting acts: Kevin Fowler, Cross Canadian Ragweed (the other CCR), the Eli Young Band, Cory Morrow, Roger Creager, Wade Bowen, Bleu Edmondson, Adam Hood, Ryan James, and the Bart Crow Band. And if it makes you feel any better, most of these acts will be arriving in buses, too.

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ColdTowne Improv and All-Night Sixties Dance Party

April 15, 2008

Comedy is hard. Not everyone can be Moe, Larry, Curly … or even Shemp. Some people are just born without a funny bone. It’s not a completely debilitating handicap. Look at how well Deadeye Dick Cheney has done for himself. Funny as he is, Donald Trump is never intentionally so. Marilyn Manson is a laugh riot who never even cracks a smile, and if you’ve ever been pulled over for doing 90 in a school zone with an open container, you probably share the suspicion that the only cops with a sense of humor are the fictional ones in Police Academy (which, unfortunately, cannot be said of all six sequels to Police Academy). Still, the world is full of humorless wretches who, like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, set off on a journey to find their missing part. Some of them make their way into the clergy or politics or the funeral home business, and some (thankfully just a few) end up in improv troupes. It’s unavoidable, really. People, on the whole, are basically good, and it takes a real asshole to jettison the dead weight that’s dragging down a comedy team. It’s much easier to send them out to get coffee or have them play an inanimate object like a chair or a footstool. Ever wonder how mimes got started? “Just shut the fuck up, Marcel, and go stand behind that imaginary glass wall.” Watching a mime is always an uncomfortable situation, but watching unfunny improv can be every bit as unsettling. At least Cirque du Soleil’s tent is roomy enough to offer a reasonably discreet exit when things get too creepy, but most improv theatres aren’t big enough to avoid direct, soulful eye contact with the performers. Mimes might be sad, but seeing an improv comedy troupe bomb at close range is as emotionally exhausting as watching someone strangling baby bunnies. Therefore, when it comes to improv – or rather, if it must, you should always take care to choose a troupe composed of people you’re not employed by, rooming with, dating, or paying rent to. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Sure helps if you live someplace like Copperas Cove; otherwise there’s statistical probability someone on stage works with you at Party Pig. Fuck it, you’ve got to roll the dice every once in a while. Why not this Saturday at ColdTowne Theatre behind the I Luv Video on Airport? Starting at 10pm comedy troupes ColdTowne and Look Cookie throw down with an hour and a half of High Larry Us improv. ColdTowne has won numerous awards including two Chronicle “Best of Austin” awards, so chances are you’ll spend at least part of the evening convulsed … with laughter. Don’t bust a lung, though; starting at 11:30pm is the Mod Party, an all night Sixties dance party that lasts until 6am – just in time for a healthy donut breakfast at Mrs. Johnson’s. Cover for the improv and the dance party clocks in at under $16, but it’s BYOB, so you know the drinks are going to be stiff.

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Sex Toy Coming Out Party

April 8, 2008

As interesting as everyone makes it out to be, sex is one of the most unoriginal things you can do as (or with) a human being … ditto for just about every other vertebrate as well. You had sex. Big whoop. We’re supposed to applaud? Do you expect a big pat on the back for breathing, taking a whiz, or going No. 2? Yes, sex is an activity you share in common with Brangelina, George Clooney, and Heidi Klum, but you also share it with Rosie O’Donnell, Donald Trump, and that guy with the plumber’s crack who works the suck hose on the honey-dipper truck. Get some. Birds do it; bees do it; even educated fleas do it. What makes you think you’re so special? Really, the amazing thing – the anomaly is when you’re not doing it. As any priest will tell you, abstinence takes balls. You really have to not want to. You have to be absolutely unwilling to take matters into your own hands. You have to get right with the harebrained notion that nature will just take its course and hop right in your lap – and with ample lubrication. Not even Jesus could pull that off, so why should you? And yet, even if you’re not pulling it off, regular sex can get monotonous after a while. Even Dr. Ruth would agree that for the most part, it’s just in-out, in-out, until the right amount of friction/stimulation is achieved. Of course, sex is much more complicated than that, especially when explored in an HBO special. In the real world, however, people don’t need a lot of whistles and bells to pop off – at least not the first few thousand times. Once you have the hang of things, though, the general consensus is that it’s good to mix it up a bit, maybe bring in some vegetables or a well-manicured hamster or a goat or a monkey or maybe even the entire Sugar’s lunch shift. Some magazine articles will tell you that the best sex organ is your imagination. That may be right, but the more likely explanation is that they just don’t want to show the pictures. Everybody knows that pound for pound, the best sex organs are the kind that end with an “is.” Ask Clinton. He liked his is wrapped in a Lewinsky. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have an intern under their desk or a sugar daddy who’ll use them as a makeshift humidor. The vast swath of humanity has a different fall-back plan: Objects that stimulate the ises – inanimate pleasure slaves that fit in the nightstand or maybe your Dooney & Bourke. Until recently (the day before Valentine’s, to be exact), those objects were considered to be “obscene devices” according to Texas Penal Code. It took us 27 years to loosen up, but we finally did, and to celebrate, Forbidden Fruit is having a Sex Toy Coming Out Party this Saturday, April 12, from 2pm to 6pm. Enjoy live music from Heather Bishop’s Graceful Riot and Tribella, and witness the ceremonial removal of signs and release forms from the obscene devices. There will also be lots of free stuff and a drawing for a “rabbit habit,” which, though it has a little hare on it, doesn’t need to be manicured.

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15th Annual Louisiana Swamp Thing and Crawfish Festival

April 1, 2008

Crawfish look like dark, runty lobsters – exactly the type of desperate, freaky cuisine expressly forbidden in the Old Testament. It’s like the Lord was saying that if you’re willing to stoop that low on the food chain in order to survive, you weren’t looking forward to heaven anyway, right? Have some dignity, mortals. If man truly was made in God’s image (woman, too, only on the nights when He’s cross-dressing), then you can probably bet that He doesn’t want to see mini replicas of Himself drunk on Bud Light and covered with saltwater and bug innards. “Levi, take that out of your mouth this instant, and go eat some matzo.” Of course, God seems to have slacked up on the rules a bit in the last couple of thousand years, otherwise Mother Teresa would have had to leave Calcutta one week a month so she could experience the shame of her menses in isolation and seclusion. Sucks to be unclean, yo. Well, at least in a biblical sense. Eating crawfish is filthy too, and in the most genteel of worlds, people would only do it in isolation and seclusion – say, up some remote backwater bayou you can only get to with a fan boat and a machete. Plus, as any Cajun will tell you in a nearly indecipherable patois, when you eat crawfish, you have to “suck the head.” They even make T-shirts about it – which somehow end up sleeveless before the cash register even rings. Why? Because it’s steamy on the bayou, and the phrase “suck the head” sounds nasty even if you’re doing it to a dead freshwater crustacean. And really, if you’re willing go down on a mudbug, you deserve to have it publicized on your T-shirt. In fact, all crazies should be clearly marked. At least marathoners recognize this and pin huge numbers to their chests to let everyone know they’re fucking bat-shit insane from all those surging endorphins. Say what you will about crackheads, stoners, and assorted other dope fiends; not a single one would run 26 miles to get a buzz on. True nutjobs like that should be avoided like Ebola – maybe even outfitted with orange prison jumpsuits. If you’ve ever been trapped at a cocktail party listening to some health nut’s workout soliloquy, you fully understand and appreciate the need for early detection and avoidance. In terms of vices, sucking mudbugs barely even rates as a misdemeanor. You have to ask yourself: Which is worse? A parking lot full of sweaty, mud-fingered drunks or a street full of sweaty, Jamba Juice-swilling bores? If you’re on the fence, maybe you should consider the musical lineup. The Swamp Thing has George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. George Clinton is entertaining even when he’s sleeping. Plus they have other fun acts with fun names: Cowboy Mouth, Chubby Carrier, Bonerama, Dirtfoot, Dr. Zog, Big Chief Kevin Goodman, a burlesque troupe, and zydeco dance lessons, which is how Cajuns purge when they don’t want to stick a muddy finger down their throat. Ahh, laissez les bons temps rouler!

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Nancy Coplin’s Big 6-0 Benefit for HAAM

March 25, 2008

There is so much money in Austin. It’s crazy, isn’t it? All those penthouse condominiums, lakeside estates, and hillside mansions that stretch all the way to the horizon and beyond have to be owned by someone, right? Who are these people? Where do they come from? And most importantly, where did they get all that goddamned money? Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, so naturally you would think that the majority of Austin’s high-dollar real estate is owned by scruffy, tattooed, coke-snorting rock stars who sleep past lunch and spend their afternoons wallowing in coconut oil greased kiddie pools filled with Girls Gone Wild. The ugly truth of the matter is that there aren’t any musicians in Austin who fit that bill. In fact, only Billy Gibbons could make that type of thing happen (OK, maybe Britt Daniel, but he doesn’t really seem like he’s into that scene). Sadly, Billy Gibbons doesn’t even live in Austin unless you count his occasional sojourns at the Four Seasons – swank digs, to be sure, but lounging poolside with a mangorita while a dude in a white coat brings you treys of cold washcloths and spritzes you with a mist bottle full of Evian doesn’t really rank as a double-devil-horns-type, rock & roll experience, even if you’re chilling in a colorful knit cap and sporting the beard of Methuselah. At some point you have to get amped up enough to defenestrate a TV set or something. Just saying. In reality, the working musician in that scenario is probably the guy in the white coat pulling the trigger on the spritzer. Life is full of vicious ironies isn’t it? Maybe “Live Music Capital” should be amended to the more appropriate “Live Music Capital (Loss) of the World.” Let’s not pull anyone’s chain. Musicians in this town are cheap whores – at least the successful ones – the rest are just sluts trying to work their way up to being whores. Sounds a trifle insulting on the surface, but at least a slut does it for love, and isn’t that the best reason to make music? Of course it is, but the payments on those new high rise condos aren’t going to be built from the tip-jar cash at the Mean Eyed Cat – at least not until the inevitable real estate bust. Until then, artistic types will have to depend on the monetary largesse of the people who enjoy the benefits of their artistic largesse. After all, those Downtown condos didn’t spring up so people could enjoy the pretty office buildings and corporate culture, did they? Nuh unh. So, Austin, how do you afford your rock & roll lifestyle? Here’s how: By supporting organizations who support the musicians who make Austin such an interesting and desirable place to live. For instance, this Sunday you can attend Nancy Coplin’s Big 6-0 Benefit for HAAM at Antone’s on Fifth Street. Coplin, whose primary job of recent years has been supporting Austin music by booking bands into actual paying gigs at Bergstrom Airport, is celebrating her 60th birthday with a benefit for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, which provides low cost primary health care services for uninsured professional musicians in the Austin area. Even if you’re not overwhelmed with gratitude, the lineup for this gig is well worth the $15 cover. Acts scheduled to perform include Marcia Ball, Delbert McClinton, Wendy Colonna, Shelly King, Sunny Sweeny, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ricky Trevino, Ruben Ramos, and Stephen Bruton. It’s not a kiddie pool full of GGW, but it should be a great show since they’re all doing it for love.

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KOOP Easter Sunday Soiree

March 18, 2008

Here’s hoping your band got signed last week so you can peel off those skinny jeans and let that thing breathe for a while. Your privates don’t need to be sealed up like a Nazi treasure cave or Christ’s tomb. It was 95 degrees last Friday. Heat like that demands a certain amount of ventilation, so unless you’re cooking up a big batch of cooter stew, you can untruss yourself and just … by God … let it flap around a little. Plus, if the sales associate at Urban Outfitters wasn’t tea-bagging Mammon, she would have done you a solid and had you turn your ass to the mirror so she could point out the areas where you and the anorexic model in the Lucky Magazine ad diverge morphologically. It’s so hard to get good service these days that honest service is just a pipe dream – sort of like your skinny jeans. Same deal for your drummer. Tell him he doesn’t always have to dress like he did in the picture on your MySpace page. You were going for that brooding goth look, which dovetails rather nicely with the climatological idiosyncrasies of the Pacific Northwest, but to survive in the music business, you have to adapt. Get out some scissors. Carve up some evil looking Daisy Dukes. Don’t worry that the world can see all your ingrown leg hairs. We were already imagining them. It’s OK to be all funereal and whatnot, but trolling around in a black hoody, leather pants, and Dr. Frank-N-furter mascara in the middle of a sunny afternoon in the ATX isn’t goth, it’s just fucking silly, and being silly is pretty much anti-goth – at least as anti-goth as the Visigoths and Ostrogoths, who were more about kicking ass than shopping at Hot Topic. Point is, you can unbutton, unbuckle, and undo now because there isn’t anyone left in town to impress. No matter how we tried to front last week, Austin is still Austin, after all, and even the sharks in the dance floor at Qua could care less about your high-dollar, ghetto-girl wardrobe. Shit, they’ve been staring up into the eye of God for so long now they’re blind to the window dressing anyway. So just relax, let your hair down and have a noncorporate sponsored beer of your choosing. You might have to pay for it out of your own pocket, but karmically at least, it’s much less expensive. Sometimes free isn’t really free at all. Take radio for instance. You can either pay for it up front (Sirius, XM) or pay for it on the back end by having to listen to annoying ads. Ever find yourself humming the jingle for a plastic surgery center? Yeah, you’re going to hell, but before your flesh is consumed in an eternal lake of fire, you might want to drop by Ruta Maya International HQ this Easter Sunday to support the resurrection of KOOP, Austin’s free community radio station that was the victim of a recent arson attempt. Starting at 8pm you can rock out to a truly Austintatious musical lineup including Wendy Colonna, Carolyn Wonderland, Shelley King, Dave Madden, Dan Dyer, and Guy Forsyth. Wear your skinny jeans if you want, but just remember: No one will care.

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SXSW Free Concert

March 10, 2008

OK, let’s do this. Cue the intro vocals to Starship’s “We Built This City.” You feeling that? Are you ready to throw hair and pump fist? Is the fist wrist accessorized with a colorful bandana? After all, this is the Starship we’re talking about, not Axe. Otherwise you’d be rocking something in stainless-steel spiked leather, right? Let’s pump it up, yo – take this thing to the next level. This is Austin, Texas, baby: Home of South by Southwest – the largest music festival in the known universe. Instead of a couple thousand bands fighting a chain-link grudge match just to get booked in a handful of venues for low/no pay (after all, Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World” every day of the year and not just the four days in March when the weather’s actually tolerable) this week there are like a zillion bands scratching and clawing to play anywhere they can for anyone at any time: the street, back yards, living rooms, tailgates, parking lots … and sometimes in actual SXSW venues … which are basically any place you can run an extension cord and hang a banner whose names and addresses appear out of thin air on the SXSW schedule. Habana Calle 6 Annex Backyard? Creekside EMC @ Hilton Garden? Sure, we know where Habana is, but where is the annex? And the annex has a back yard? What does EMC stand for? Entirely mentally constructed? WTF SXSW? There are thousands of musicians all over the world with fond memories of playing in an Austin club that never even existed. “Hey dude, if you ever get down to Austin you need to book a gig at the Habana Annex Backyard. I don’t remember the address, but they have really ass-kicking mojitos.” Of course, if you think the folks at SXSW are the only ones crapping venues out of midair, think again. Pretty much every place in town with something to sell seems to clear out a space to put a crappy PA and daylong lineup of desperate musicians. It’s certainly OK to try to hack off a piece of Austin’s biggest cash cow, but as usual, the musicians are usually the ones who end up getting chumped. No matter what the owner tells you, having a “showcase” at an antiques store in Kyle during SXSW is not the same thing as having a SXSW showcase. Sure, you could argue the dubious merits of either, but the former only has a highly tangential relationship to the latter – similar to the way Dwight Schrute is “assistant to the manager” rather than “assistant manager.” Whatever. Part of becoming a playing musician is getting played every now and then. Still, as often as not, the users get used as well. It’s hard to say whether providing free music, barbecue, and booze to several hundred slackers, musicians, and SXSW volunteers during a day party provides any real boost to a company’s long-term viability, but it sure makes for a nice buzz that day. The same could be said of the free SXSW concerts at Auditorium Shores. Those big-name sponsors may not be feeling it on the back end, but the locals seem to appreciate the fact that SXSW is giving them a reach around. If the word gets out, this Saturday’s concert should be one of the bigger ones in recent years. The lineup features big name acts like Lyrics Born, Talib Kweli, and Ice Cube. SXSW might have built this city on rock & roll, but Saturday night they’re definitely going to burn it up with some rap.