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TFN’s 12th Anniversary Celebration

OCT. 2, 2007

Texas is a really big state, especially in the minds of its citizens, whose heads, for the most part, are large enough to comfortably accommodate its immense geography. Nowhere else in America will you find a citizenry so convinced of their home state’s superiority, even and especially in the absence of any substantiation. Outside of Texas there are those who find this hubris entertaining (pride inevitably precedes the type of ass-crack-revealing fall that makes the finals on America’s Funniest Home Videos), but more commonly, unTexans just find it obnoxious. Sure, it might seem like Texans’ heads are big enough to enjoy a certain amount of open-mindedness, but that doesn’t necessarily follow. You cannot have an open mind if it’s packed full of bullshit, and to fill up a space as big as Texas, you have to start packing at a young age. Fortunately, the Texas legislature is up to the task. Back in May they voted 124-5 to put the words “one state under God” into the Texas pledge, presumably to let the ’tards in the other 49 know whose side God is really on. Apparently the “one nation under God” in the national pledge (the one that immediately precedes the Texas Pledge) doesn’t provide the amount of God coverage Texas needs. Only three other states have even adopted an additional pledge: Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. That puts Texas in very select company – what some might even refer to as America’s brain belt – although to give ‘Bama credit, their pledge doesn’t double dip on the deity. Think about it. Texas is currently holding down a spot usually reserved for Arkansas or Oklahoma. Now there’s something to brag about. Admittedly, bashing the Texas lege for idiotic behavior is cruel sport – sort of like making fun of a first grader with a rat tail haircut: You know he wasn’t born with it, but it wasn’t entirely his choice either. Somewhere along the line someone gave him the idea that a rat tail was a perfectly acceptable hairstyle. What’s done is done. We can’t jump into a time machine and fly back to the Eighties or for that matter the Alamo. We have to fix things here in the present. Rat tails can be remedied by a sharp pair of scissors, but backward-assed legislation can only be remedied by sharp minds. One way to ensure Texas minds don’t get any duller is to support organizations like the Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization formed to counter radical fundamentalist legislation sponsored by the religious right. This Saturday they are having their annual fundraiser at La Zona Rosa. This year’s celebration features a live auction, food from local caterers, and music by folk favorite Ruthie Foster and Austin celebrity cover band, Skyrocket. Tickets aren’t cheap, but ignorance is even more expensive.

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Ink Fest Tattoo & Piercing Convention

SEPT. 18, 2007

After three full days of slogging through the dirt, sweat, noise, and smell of Austin City Limits, you’re probably experiencing a touch of “acute anxiety” just like Meg White. You might feel extremely anxious about going outside again. In fact, you might just want to stay in the shower all day scrubbing yourself vigorously with a loofah sponge – not just because you spent last weekend lathered in other people’s sweat, but because you need to remove the remaining dead sunburned skin so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a bikini even when you’re not. When you take your top off you should get credit for it, and not just from the people who are close enough to tuck dollars into your G-string. Besides, if you wanted a permanent design you would have gotten a tattoo, right? Maybe one of those cool armband tats that look like the headgear Jesus sported on his power walk up to Calvary. Or, you could go with the sure-to-please “tramp stamp,” which is like a St. Louis arch over your ass crack, a visually alluring gateway to the dirty South. You don’t want to cheap it on the tramp stamp. It should be something ornate and elaborate – something that shows potential lovers that you’re not opposed to spending a considerable amount of time on your stomach enduring pain. Hawt. Most of all, a tattoo should say something about you. Well, actually all tattoos do that in a sort of general, stereotypical way, but a good tattoo says something specific … personal. For instance, if you’re a sailor, you might want to get a tattoo of a boat anchor or maybe a Polynesian girl in a grass skirt – a totally unique design that sets you apart from all the nonsailors. If you’re into Lord of the Rings, you could tattoo something in Elvish on your alabaster chest. Try something playful like “T.C.B” or “Mama, fry me up a banana sammich.” If you insist on getting a name tattoo, try to stick with blood relatives. That way your painful divorce won’t include the agony of removing “Alexandra” or “Bartholomew” from the heart on your chest. Of course, those are just general guidelines that you’ll probably be too drunk to remember when you get your first tattoo. That’s OK, the key to getting any tattoo is not to overthink it. Like our president, you don’t want your steadfast resolve clouded by indecision. After the deed is done, you’ll have a lifetime to come up with a brilliant rationalization of your decision. If you’re one of those people who are still on the fence regarding tattoos, you can do some further investigation this weekend at the Austin Convention Center. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday illustrators and the illustrated will converge for Inkfest, a whole convention dedicated to body art. Check out live tattooing and piercing plus contests for “Best Ink of the Day,” “Best Ink of the Weekend,” “Best Body Art,” and Ms. Inkfest 2007. Oh yeah, and there’s live music too. Best of all, it’s indoors and air-conditioned, so even if there are many scary-looking people like there were at ACL, at least they won’t sweat on you.

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Austin City Limits Music Festival

SEPT. 11, 2007

Bill Clinton is doing a booksigning at 11am on Friday at BookPeople. Coincidence? Maybe, but it’s safe to say that “Butter Smooth” Bill is only a phone call or two away from a VIP plus 20 to the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Chances are he’ll be phoning it in Friday morning, limiting his Q&A responses to a thrifty 20 minutes each and hurriedly scribbling autographs so he can get over to Zilker and get his geezer groove on. Imagine our greatest living president doing the white man’s overbite backstage during the Dynamites’ set, pumping his fist (albeit vertically with the thumb turned unthreateningly upward) and playing air saxophone. Yeah, that’s some messed up shit, but you know you would skip your project planning session or at the very least sixth-period biology to witness such an historic moment. You’re probably still kicking yourself for having missed Ben Kweller’s famous nosebleed tampon incident of ACL 2006. Could you really blame Blow Job Bill for wanting to get in on that action? It’s like Tony Montana is in charge of the backstage buffet. If you’re one of the less fortunate 100,000 dirt magnets on the other side of the barricades, you’re probably not going to get a chance to deviate your septum – unless maybe you’re willing to mule a couple of balloon pellets past the security gate – in which case you’re going to need a tampon for more than just your nose. Otherwise, there is plenty of unreasonably priced beer and the occasional communal spliff inexplicably produced by some string cheese trustafarian whose dreads look and smell like skunkweed. If you could find the wherewithal to rock that look, you too could be playing tonsil hockey with a tramp stamped, toe-ringed, hairy-ankled hottie. Of course, not everyone at ACL looks like they just got back from Burning Man. There will be plenty of middle-aged white guys in Hawaiian shirts, Birkenstocked NPR listeners, yuppie condopolitans, college kids, high schoolers, grade schoolers and even sweaty babies in strollers. Yeah, babies like to rock too. Simple math should tell you that your chances of rubbing up against your soulmate at ACL are infinitely better than sitting at home on your couch playing Halo, though maybe not quite as hygienic. One of the things that makes ACL unique is its undeniably multigenerational appeal. Like its namesake public TV show, ACL is all over the demographic map. Unless you’re into frog-throated death rock, you will probably find something you like that you didn’t expect to like. Failing that, you can always count on the big closers like Björk, Dylan, and the White Str– uh … Arcade Fire.

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Austin Ice Cream Festival

AUGUST 13, 2007

Somewhere back in the hairy-assed Stone Age one of our thirsty, unibrowed ancestors had the audacity to get his milk from an entirely different species. Who knows? Could have been a precocious 2 year old or simply some prehistoric Benny Hill, the point is that regardless of the motivation, it must have been a hard sell to the rest of the clan, not to mention the respective cow/goat/camel/yak/water buffalo. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to grab the tits of a lactating mother of your own species, but it takes big brass ones to crawl up under the belly of a 1,000 pound hairy beast and start tugging on her mams. One would expect to see more hieroglyphics detailing the hilarious Neolithic bloopers that must have ensued, but apparently history is not written by people with hoof marks in their foreheads or dung in their hair. Suffice it to say that domestication of dairy animals must have been a long and winding road, albeit a necessary one on the journey to modern civilization. Hunting is a decent enough leisure activity (unless maybe you’re bird hunting with Deadeye Dick), but chasing around critters for your daily sustenance can be a frustrating and demoralizing experience, especially if you’re a Buddhist. The Plains Indians (aka indigenous occupants of middle America) made a pretty decent go of it, but they racked up a lot of frequent follower miles in the process. Props to them however for figuring out how to live “off the tit,” as it were for hundreds of years. Sure, you can criticize them for not inventing gunpowder, the wheel, or movable type, but if you’ve ever sidled up beside a full-grown American bison, you’ll never disparage them for not having whipped up a respectable smoked Havarti. Unlike their light-loafered European counterparts, the American buffalo’s ass-kicking switch is always engaged, so milking one is pretty much out of the question, not to mention adult American buffalo bull can weigh more than 2,000 pounds, which can either be seen as a lot of fresh meat or a good reason not to fondle the cows’ teats. Someone might have tried at some point, but the size of his balls surely hindered his escape from the charging bull. Lesson learned. Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, our European ancestors were growing fat and happy enjoying the advantages of dairy animal domestication: Fresh churned butter, curds and whey, quiches, cheeses, cow tipping. Sitting on a bucket and yanking teats may be hard work, but it’s not like chasing around a thundering herd of bison all day. Eventually, if you make enough cheese, you can turn your attentions to other pursuits like arts, sciences, and oppressing indigenous peoples. The Europeans excelled at all three, so it was only a matter of time before they invented ice cream. Used to be only folks in chillier climes could enjoy this delicacy, but since the advent of mechanical refrigeration, it’s been a special favorite of people in hot places like Texas. Ironically, ice cream doesn’t cool much down except your throat and generally just makes you fatter and correspondingly hotter than you would be had you not eaten it in the first place. Ah, but it sure feels good going down. This Saturday at Waterloo Park, you can cool down, fatten up, and celebrate the domestication of dairy animals at the first ever Austin Ice Cream Festival. Sample ice creams from a variety of local vendors, listen to live music by Nakia & His Southern Cousins, Boxcar Preachers, and Idgy Vaughn, and help raise money for local charities. The festival starts at 10am and ends at 7pm. By that time you should be wanting to get off the tit anyway.