The Gourds New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball

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December 29, 2009

When the big ball drops Thursday night, the Aughts will become the shoulda’s. You’re probably planning on spending the evening in quiet, contemplative thought, torturing over the mishaps and missed opportunities of the last decade. There are certainly lessons to be learned. For instance: Presidents of the United States should at least be able to maintain a B average … even at Yale … even if they’re cheerleaders. In retrospect that doesn’t seem to be too much to ask, but sometime in the last decade a lot of people went to the polls thinking that if below average was good enough to sell Amway, drive a semi, work a backhoe, or maintain a plumber’s crack, it should work fine for the Oval Office too. Turns out they were dead wrong. Sadly, a lot of their sons and daughters didn’t have the luxury of being wrong. They were just dead. George Bush and the extended Bush family didn’t contribute any of their bloodline to that corpse pile, nor did most of the rich people in America … nor will they ever. Happily, some rather major advances were made in robot technology in the last decade that are allowing more and more soldiers to pull joysticks instead of triggers. Increasingly, robots and robotic technology are being used on the front lines of the war on terror. The day may soon (perhaps already has?) come when the son of a drywall mudder from Round Rock will be able to fly a remote-control nanobot up Osama bin Laden’s nose which will burrow its way to his heart in a matter of minutes. So we have that to look forward to … as well as all of its terrifying potential abuses. We also learned that when it comes to being abusive, America is in the Top 10 with a bullet. We are, it would seem, some sadistic motherfuckers, given the right circumstances. Actually, we always have been. We just forgot. Vietnam was quite a while ago, and all the guys who beat the shit out of captured Nazis after World War II are mostly dead. We shouldn’t have been surprised about renditions or waterboarding or prisoner abuse though. It’s hard to find people who are willing to kill people, get shot at, and simultaneously maintain compassion, empathy, and understanding for their enemies. Maybe we can build a robot for that, or maybe we shouldn’t try. We also found out in the last decade that we can be blitheringly incompetent. We crashed a space shuttle, botched a hurricane relief effort, and most recently sent the world economy into a tailspin because we let the greedheads run amok in the world of finance. Now we’re 10% unemployed and in the hole for trillions of dollars – most likely to the Chinese. In 2000 we had a $230 billion surplus. Right now the deficit is $1.84 trillion. That’s a $2 trillion swing. Every man, woman, and child are roughly eight grand in the hole. Oh where are you now charming Billy? Leaving out those under the age of consent for rhetorical purposes, you’d be hard pressed to find many average Americans who wouldn’t Lewinski the prez for eight large … at least on the DL, and you have to figure by now Clinton has learned to keep his mouth shut. At least the Chinese are now making enough money to be the largest new-car market in the world. They also will be pumping out an unprecedented amount of greenhouse gases, so your Hyde Park bungalow might end up being beachfront property in the next 10 years. If only you could go in the sun for more than a few minutes without being riddled with basal cell carcinomas. Yes, all of this sounds pretty bleak, but there’s hope. It said so right there on the Obama campaign poster. In fact, the future’s so bright you might be blinded if you look directly into it. Starting on Jan. 1, America is going to begin building a new, green economy that will create millions of new jobs and lead to unprecedented prosperity. This new prosperity will foster social, physical, intellectual, and spiritual enlightenment that will end all war, conflict, and suffering throughout the world. That’s the thing about the future: You can’t say it won’t happen. One thing that will be happening (if it’s not already in the past when you read this) is the Gourds New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball at the Independent. If history tell us anything, it’s that people really get their freak on when they feel anonymous, and unless you’re one of those people who dresses up in real life, this should be a great opportunity to experiment with being something you’re not. You might even get to do someone you’re not, too. Plus, you’ll be benefiting the brave new world, because the proceeds benefit the YMCA Partner of Youth Campaign, which provides financial assistance for programs and services to deserving Austin families.

Dale Watson’s Annual Christmas Show & Dance

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December 22, 2009

Ideally by now the manic materialist melee of the Christmas shopping season is behind you. There may be a few last-minute convenience-store runs for retaliatory gifting, but hey, you can’t anticipate everything. It’s not realistic to expect gifts from your yoga teacher, your postal carrier, or the person who towels sweat off the equipment at your gym. What the fuck? This isn’t Japan. People should at least be on a bro hug basis before they start buying useless shit for one another. A good rule of gifting is that if a present can be procured at the dollar store, a nice card will probably suffice. Handmade will do, too. You might even get away with a Monk-e-mail. Popping for Uchi gift certificates or weekend stays at the Four Seasons is downright creepy unless you’re a real estate agent or a personal injury lawyer. Even a box of Godiva chocolates is a bit ostentatious for any relationship that doesn’t involve blood relatives, heavy petting, or perhaps some sort of disturbing combination of the two. Otherwise, disproportionate gifting just has one effect: awkwardness. Sadly, as much as you might try to duck and cover during the holiday season, somebody you would never expect will inevitably drop a gift bomb on you. That is why you should say a little prayer of thanks for all the unrepentant heathens who keep their 24-hour convenience stores open year round. You just never know if your reclusive next-door neighbor with foil on his windows is going to drop by with a fruit basket, a cheese ball, or a used pizza box full of pot brownies. Even though you know for an absolute certainty that his heartfelt offering of friendship will soon be clogging up your garbage disposal, you will still feel enough of a tinge of guilt to send you down to the corner store at 9 o’clock on Christmas Eve to buy him an ice scraper and a bottle of 10W-30 motor oil in retaliation. You could get him a sleeve of Donettes and a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice, but you won’t want him thinking you’re trying to get in his pants. Smarter, shrewder types will just leave the giver hanging … not even a thank you note. It’s a ballsy play, but the idea behind that strategy is solid: A giver is like a hungry kitten at your screen door. If you just ignore it, it will eventually go away. In the real world, not everyone has the cold chrome heart it takes to ignore a hungry, mewing kitten – not even a metaphorical one. Money can’t buy everything, but occasionally it can buy some last-minute peace of mind, and sometimes that peace of mind just happens to come through a metal sliding drawer beneath a bulletproof glass window at 3am on Christmas morning – or as the Sikh on the other side of the glass likes to call it, “December 25.” Regardless of what you call it, at least on Christmas Day the pressure is off. You might have done good or completely screwed the pooch with the gifting, but on C-Day there’s no use worrying about it. In the immortal words of Clayton Williams, you might as well relax and enjoy it. “It” ideally would be Dale Watson’s annual Christmas Show & Dance at the Continental Club. If you’re on the fence about country music, Dale will definitely make you a believer. Plus there’s no better way to meet the opposite gender in Austin than knowing how to country dance, so stop being stuck up and give it a whirl.

Master Pancake Christmas Show

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December 16, 2009

At some point this weekend you are going to be stuck on the highway behind some hayseed from that region of Egypt that doesn’t even appear on the map. He will be driving 20 miles per hour below the speed limit and hitting his brakes at random intervals trying to decide if he missed the exit for Sheplers. At this point, your misanthropy might crush your red giant heart into a tiny white dwarf, perhaps even a black hole. You might begin pounding on your horn and screaming expletives with such force and conviction that the inside of your windshield is covered with droplets of spittle. All of this will happen while “‘Tis the season to be jolly” chirps out of your radio. The only thing keeping you from going completely postal is that he doesn’t have a bumper sticker that says: “What’s the hurry? You’re already in Austin.” Here’s a little mantra to get you through the Jesus season: Zen. Yes, you do live in a city full of infuriating retards, but you’re one of them too. You’ve been the one blocking traffic at a green light because you’re sexting your boyfriend, futzing with the radio, or trying to retrieve the french fry that fell under your seat. You’re the oblivious son of a bitch who leaves your grocery cart at a 45-degree angle in the aisle at H-E-B while you painstakingly compare the fiber content of Cap’n Crunch vs. Golden Grahams. You also take 37 items to the 20-item express checkout and then ask the clerk to fetch you a case of Newport 100’s and a lighter from the locked display case across the store. Just remember that shit when you’re screaming, “Die! Die! Die!” at the line of preschoolers clutching one another’s shirts as they slowly shuffle through the crosswalk in front of you. That may be the Easter spirit, but it’s definitely not the Christmas spirit. Those little numskulls are just trying to get through their days same as you, only with a few more wet Pull-Ups and a few less temper tantrums. They aren’t personally trying to fuck over your mad dash to Starbucks. Remember: It’s the season of giving. Instead of giving yourself an aneurysm, give yourself the gift of inner peace. Unstress. Let it slide. The holidays are always fraught with unrealistic expectations: Your daughter wants a Twilight Bella Swan Barbie. Mom wants everyone to go to midnight mass. Dad wants to cut down the Christmas tree himself with a chain saw. It’s been the same for centuries. Mary expected little baby Josh to be the messiah. No pressure there. Somehow, without the benefit of medicinal marijuana, Josh managed to find inner peace (well, except for that one time with the moneychangers). His secret? Forgiveness. So, if you want to really get in the spirit of giving for the holidays, start by giving people the benefit of the doubt – even the assholes. Sometimes what seems to be most evil is really just comical … sort of like Rob Zombie … and laughter is pretty good stress relief. If you want to uncork this holiday season, you couldn’t ask for a better way to do it than Master Pancake’s Christmas Show, a Christmas-clip extravaganza featuring commentary and improv caroling by Pancake regulars John Erler and Joe Parsons, with Santa-holic Owen Egerton joining the cast for this special holiday show. You might want to wear some Huggies. This show is so funny you might actually crap trow. How Zen is that?

Blue Genie Art Bazaar

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December 8, 2009

Ideally by now your house is so completely covered in lights that your next-door neighbor has to wear welding goggles to find his car in the morning. His raccoon-face sunburn is an epidermal shroud of Turin, a moving testament to your profound faith in the One True God. No doubt the baby Jesus would smile upon your handiwork. Not only is he the Truth (although according to his Holiness, the Shaq, that title now belongs to Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics), he is also the Light. Check the paintings. His head glows like a lightbulb in nearly every one of them. Surely He wouldn’t mind you sucking a few hundred kilowatt hours out of the matrix to let the neighborhood know that you’re on the Jesus team. After all, Christians have been rolling strong since about AD400. It was a long, ugly road from the manger to Vatican City, for the persecuted to become the persecutors, for Christianity to go viral. They needed a flashy marketing campaign to keep that kind of buzz afloat: lots of ostentatious bling, fly vestments, and lots of lights. Everybody likes lights, right? Well, unless they’re being burned as a witch or branded with hot pokers. Yes, Christianity has had at least a few million low points over the last 2,000 years, but it’s also done quite a few good things too. There are just too many children in impoverished Third World countries running around in ironic American T-shirts to argue otherwise. Even still, not everyone is on board the Jesus Bus. For some, Christmas lights are just an external manifestation of the oppression of Western imperialism. That’s not too far of a stretch.You wouldn’t ask someone who was waterboarded at Gitmo to go water skiing, would you? Of course not. Fortunately, there aren’t many people left in our little corner of the world who have a psychotic aversion to ostentatious lighting displays. For the most part, they’re just a sparkly way to further accelerate global warming, but otherwise they’re mostly harmless. That’s because sometime around the turn of the last century the bulb replaced the candle as the primary means of Christmas tree illumination. One can assume it really put the kibosh on the holiday burn ward business … until the invention of flammable polyester pajamas. Really … who knew toddlers would get too close to open flames? So yes, there are probably a few people out there who are terrorized by Christmas lights through no fault of their own (note to acid droppers: You buy the ticket, you take the ride), but by and large people dig them – so the more, the better. We can always build more windmills. Plus, you wouldn’t want to deny all those 10-year-old boys in the neighborhood something to shoot at with their BB guns, would you? Hells no! That would upset the cosmic equilibrium, or at least the ongoing symbiosis between the creators and the consumers. This time of year it always seems like there is a surfeit of consumers, but in reality the creators kick it up a notch as well. For instance, through Christmas Eve, more than 100 local artists will be peddling their wares at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar at the Monarch Event Center. This isn’t just another holiday crafts show to ignore; it’s an especially good one. You’ll be doing yourself a favor by attending. If their stuff doesn’t get bought, they may very well be applying for your job next year, and the only other thing you probably know how to do well is shoot out Christmas lights with a BB gun.

Opal Divine’s Whisky Festival

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December 2, 2009

Truly one of the best things about the holidays is that they are an excellent and generally accepted excuse to enjoy a little recreational intoxication. Yes, you, Jesus, and Krissy Kringle can all make a solid case for the spirit of giving, but inevitably materialism is the road to ruin. It may look like a lot of fun when everybody gets a new car on Oprah or when Skeeter wins the lotto and buys an aboveground for his double-wide, but there is a darker, uglier side to materialism, and not just that chest-crushing moment when you find out the big box under the Christmas tree with your name on it contains a Texas Longhorns Snuggie. Ohhhhhh, you better not pout. Here’s a suggestion: If you actually do manage to nurture your white, hot rage all the way to the North Pole, make sure you’re packing a sidearm with enough caliber to drop a polar bear in less than six rounds. Rumor has it that when those bitches come up out of the water they are insane with hunger … and that Texas Longhorn Snuggie is going to stick out like a sore thumb. Santa Claus, on the other hand, should give you much less trouble … unless you’ve already emptied your clip on a polar bear. Needless to say, it would take a lot of hate to pistol-whip Santa in front of the elves, reindeer, and Mrs. Claus. To summon that kind of fury you would have to binge-drink Starbucks and listen to Gorgoroth all the way to the North Pole. A few days of that evil shit and you’d be ready to strangle the baby Jesus, so putting the beatdown on Santa would almost feel like a mercy killing. But really, if you’re going to binge-drink, why squander your money on the dark side? Why not imbibe something that warms your heart and makes you launch into I-love-you-man soliloquies for random people such as your postman, your boss, and that surly, liver-spotted old lady behind the counter at your dry cleaners? No, not ecstasy, that shit hasn’t been legal since the Eighties. What you need is Holiday cheer (aka booze!). Sure, there should be some lengthy, ponderous boilerplate here about responsible drinking, but deep in our hearts we all know that truly responsible drinking means not drinking at all. F that S. Humans have been using alcohol to get stupid at least since they could articulate the word “grog,” but very likely a few centuries before that. Even though chemically its effect lacks the subtlety and nuance of pricier and more potent drugs, alcohol is nonetheless the most epicurean because of its countless permutations and means of delivery: Jell-O shots, rum cakes, beer bongs, absinthe, ether. You could spend an entire lifetime pickling your liver with all manner of alcoholic inventions and still not exhaust the supply. Ask Michael Parker from Opal Divine’s. He’s been on an alcoholic vision quest for most of his adult life, and though his journey is far from over, Austin has benefited from his worldliness and willingness to share it. This Thursday, Opal Divine’s Penn Field location is hosting its seventh annual Whisky Festival. From 7 to 10pm you can sample more than 45 of the finest malt whiskies from all the regions of Scotland. You can also nosh on hors d’oeuvres like smoked salmon, smoked meats, and fruits and cheeses, all for the amazingly low price of $45. Even more amazing is that all of the proceeds from the event will benefit Meals on Wheels and More. What a great way to enjoy the spirit of giving and still get your spirit on.

ThunderCloud Subs 19th Annual Turkey Trot

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November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving is like communism: great in theory but often ugly in execution. Of course, the same could be said of Christianity, but that holiday is still a month away, so we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, should we? As far as Turkey Day, though, there’s plenty of room for improvement. For starters, the iconography could use a little dressing up. Pilgrims and turkeys. Really? Do we have to choose between religious zealots and birds with a built-in death wish? Both seem to be overly eager to meet their maker, so one can assume they don’t spend a lot of time counting blessings. On the other hand, walking around in high-heeled buckle shoes or with a snood and wattle hanging off your face surely brings some low points. Think about it. If you had to spend the rest of your life as a Pilgrim, you’d probably buy a box of razor blades and start drawing a warm bath. Similarly, if you had to walk around with grizzled, pulpy pieces of flesh hanging off your nose and chin, you might eventually find yourself standing on a folding chair with a noose around your neck. You get the feeling that when a turkey first saw a Pilgrim raising his blunderbuss, he leaned toward the muzzle, thinking, “Bless you kind sir, this goddamned snood was making me cross-eyed!” More than likely, the Pilgrim turned the blunderbuss on himself first, because when your one big feast of the year features turkey as its centerpiece, you’re probably eager to shuffle off your own mortal coil. Regardless of how reasonable that scenario sounds, we can only assume that turkeys are suicidal. We can’t be absolutely sure. After all, turkeys are rumored to be stupid, and ignorance is bliss. The Pilgrims might have been suicidal as well, but they were too busy fending off disease, pestilence, wild animals, and peace-loving American Indians to take reasonable stock of their situation. In fact, it is within the realm of possibility that any Pilgrim who survived more than six months of that brutish existence was pissing himself with glee … if only because he had the option of choosing a better exit than having his head used as a chew toy by a mountain lion. This, in essence, is the philosophical foundation of the Thanksgiving – the part that works. Every once in a while it’s good to take a quiet moment and reflect on how things could be much, much worse. It’s easy enough, just let your imagination run wild. If your life actually got as bad as you can imagine it could be, you’d be absolutely giddy at the thought of eating dried fish, turkey, and yams with Squanto. However, in the real world it’s hard to keep your eyes on the rhetorical punishment. Sometimes just sitting down with your relatives and hogging on some Butterball can seem like the seventh level of hell, when in reality it’s not nearly as bad as say, being torn to pieces by bloodthirsty hyenas or, a little closer to home, being waterboarded at Gitmo. It’s all a matter of contrast, really, and if you can bend your mind into a decent hypothetical perspective, you’ll probably find that you’re living fat and happy – though you might want to take care of that toenail fungus situation. Maybe you can drop by the drug store on your way back from the 19th annual ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot, which starts at Waterloo Park at 9:30am on Thanksgiving Day. Not only is the Turkey Trot a great way to feel better about the orgy of gluttony and sloth the modern Thanksgiving has become, it’s also a great way to meet a lot of ostensibly healthy people and see what they look like when they’re sweating. Most importantly, it’s a relatively easy and fun way give back to the community, because the race proceeds go to Caritas of Austin, an organization that fights hunger, homelessness, and poverty in the Austin area.


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November 18, 2009

Hear that? That’s the sound of the holiday clock ticking toward C-Day. Another week and you’ll have to beat the dust out of your flashing Bobbie Brooks Rudolph sweater and plug in the string of Christmas lights that’s been permanently attached to your house for the last three years. Sure, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but what used to be a gentle road bump on the superhighway to material excess is now a big, white, one-way arrow. After all, if you don’t have any things, what are you going to be thankful for? Health? Happiness? Love? This is Austin, Texas, America, not an ashram. You might be able to somehow monetize your health – say, if you’re a day laborer or a sex worker, but love and happiness aren’t going to put spinny rims on your Hummer or crust your grill with ice. Really, what good are love and happiness if you can’t rub them in other peoples’ faces? After all, happiness in the absence of external validation is very often mistaken for insanity. You can’t just wander around in a state of bliss for no reason without checking someone else’s opinion. You’re not Kierkegaard. Life is much uglier and meaner than that. You have to occasionally check in with friends and neighbors and complete strangers to make sure they recognize your happiness as genuine happiness and not some freak chemical imbalance. When you proudly open the door of your crawl space to reveal the piles of corpses, it’s probably a bad sign if your friend recoils in horror. It’s an even worse sign if you don’t have any friends with whom you can share your crawl space. People need people … if only to make sure they haven’t gone off the deep end. This system of external checks and balances doesn’t always work. Sometimes abominations slip through. For instance: People still engage in hardcore, sloppy tongue-kissing sessions at shopping malls. They still take out second mortgages to lease PT Cruiser convertibles. They still wear nugget jewelry and Ed Hardy prints. They still launch into tedious long-form soliloquies about their fitness regime at cocktail parties. Actions such as these are basically cries for withering social criticism. It’s how society evolves. Sure, solitude has its perks. Everyone needs a little downtime – but not everyone is John the Baptist, Hank Dave Thoreau, or Jeremiah Johnson. Increasingly, people are forced to show their asses 24/7 whether they like it or not. These days you never really know if your innocent, back-alley beer piss is going to end up going viral on YouTube or whether you’ll be tagged in a Facebook photo with a wrinkled nutsack resting on your sleeping forehead. Welcome to the fishbowl. “All the world’s a stage, and we are merely players” … with no green room. Will it force us into a morally homogenized lifestyle, or will it simply make the aberrations seem commonplace? Stay tuned, the plot thickens. If you want to catch a little old-skool theatre, you can find it at the Hyde Park Theatre this weekend as Capital T Theatre continues its run of Sick, Zayd Dohrn’s comedy about a family of germophobes trying their best to retreat from the dangers of the outside world. Spoiler alert: People mess it up.

East Austin Studio Tour

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November 11, 2009

This Saturday East Austin will be teeming with art lovers, or at the very least people who want to believe they are. Expect to see clusters of trendy looking people wandering around trying to read the East Austin Studio Tour Google map on their iPhone. Statistically there should be a corresponding bump in hit-and-runs and muggings, but the Eastside has become so gentrified in recent years that the biggest crimes seem to have more to do with architectural design than they do with personal injury. The latter gets more press understandably. It’s very rare that an Austin Police Department officer riddles a tangerine-and-teal postmodern condominium quadplex with a hail of gunfire – regardless of how much it deserves it. He might upchuck a little bit of doughnut in the back of his mouth when he’s driving by, but as far as a voluntary corrective action, nada. It’s probably all for the best. You definitely don’t want to cross the Austin arts community – even if you’re strapped. There are nearly as many artists in Austin as there are musicians. You might be able to take out some of the first wave (and what makes the first wave so formidable is that all artists consider themselves to be in it), but eventually your clip will be empty and you’ll be overwhelmed with an relentless tide of bitterness and resentment. Hey, it could be worse. You could be a music critic. Now there’s a suicide mission. Devoting your life to making compelling arguments on why people should suppress their urge to create is a thankless job to say the least. Fortunately, most visual artists don’t mail in copies of their artworks for review. More often they’re likely to have a website with a memory-hogging flash intro followed by 7-point text at the bottom of the page that says, merely, “enter.” If you’re willing to squeeze your waning interest through the eye of that cyberneedle, you’re probably ready to experience the artist’s work in all its two-dimensional, pixilated, broken-linked glory. What did you expect? Internet art can’t be a fulfilling substitute for the real deal. If that were the case, you would be totally satisfied with Internet porn. You have to admit, as truly awesome as Internet porn is, to get the payoff you still have to do the dirty work yourself. It’s pretty much the same thing with art. Seeing a 360-by-420 JPEG of dogs playing poker is a horrible substitute for the real thing – even if the dogs are really just bad taxidermies with spotty fur and creepy poker faces. To see real art, sometimes you have to get up and leave the house rather than just buying on it on the Home Shopping Network. Of course, if you’re going to have to go traipsing all over the Eastside just to look at art, it had better be some good shit … or at the very least you should be able to get some nice snacks out of the deal. Well, there’s a good chance of getting a little of both this Saturday when the East Austin Studio Tour kicks off its sixth year. Print yourself a map and spend the next two weekends visiting the 154 studios, 20 exhibition spaces, 49 happenings, and 30 programs that make up EAST. If you somehow manage to tick off every box on that to-do list, you’re a true art lover … and you have way too much time on your hands. Perhaps you should be come an artist yourself?

Fun Fun Fun Fest

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November 3, 2009

Halloween is over. Time to put the sparkly unicorn costume back in the closet … at least until Carnaval. Now begins the ugly slog to Thanksgiving, which offers very little in the way of entertainment unless you’re into football, distended bellies, and stale beer farts. Exhibitionism? Forget it. Your two choices are Pocahontas and Pilgrim, and nobody, not even Johnny Depp, can make buckle shoes look cool. Try it. Wear buckle shoes. See if the grade schoolers in your neighborhood don’t hang you on a doorknob by your underwear. If you’re going to roll Pilgrim style, back it up with a loaded blunderbuss. At the very least, you’ll be able to shoot your TV set if the Aggies manage to somehow pull off the upset. Until then, however, you’ve got three solid weeks of fall to grind through – perhaps the greenest fall ever. Poke your head out the window, and you’ll swear little Cinderella birds are going to start landing on your shoulders. This fall may be the best spring Austin has ever had. Time to slam some Allegra and start acting like the fun, outdoorsy person you described in your Facebook profile. You know, the one who likes hiking, biking, camping, running, skydiving … those sorts of things. Yes, it’s true there’s probably an iPhone app for all that shit. There’s also probably an iPhone app that will simulate a hot, ripped bod too, and maybe your iPhone avatar is totally getting laid tonight, but you on the other hand will only be getting fatter, paler, and dumber. The only person currently cashing in on that ugly triumvirate is Rush Limbaugh, and he’s pretty much cornered the market. If you’ve been a little too long jacked into the Matrix, don’t despair. You don’t have to look like an Abercrombie model to enjoy a beautiful day. You could just throw on some sweats and go lie in the grass somewhere. Your first thought might have been Zilker – if only a quick shudder of sense memory recalling the Austin City Limits Music Fest puddin’ people. But Zilker isn’t the only place in Austin where you can sit your ass in some grass. According to the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, there are 206 parks, 12 preserves, and 26 greenbelts in the Austin area. That’s a lot of dogs with bandanas, Frisbee golfers, power walkers, moms with toddlers, and creepy dudes looking for anonymous gay sex. You should be able to find some little patch of green where you can have peaceful commune with Mother Nature. If that fails, you can always join the trampling hordes of hipsters down at Waterloo Park this weekend for Fun Fun Fun Fest, a festival so cool that the headliner is the Jesus Lizard … or maybe Danzig … or Shonen Knife. Then again, a decent case could be made for Brian Posehn or the Whitest Kids U’Know … or maybe U don’t. If none of the preceding ring a bell, then the rest of the lineup will be completely unfamiliar to you unless you’re under the age of 21 or wear shoes that sort of look like athletic shoes but really aren’t athletic shoes because they have too much leather and are available in colors like wasabi, chocolate, and cantaloupe. You might also have an Amish beard and carry a messenger bag even though the only message you’re carrying is on your T-shirt. It says: “Under the Influence of Jesus.” You don’t mean it. You’re 43. You also have Crystal Antlers, Lucero, Hannibal Buress, Gorilla Biscuits, Rat King, and Fuck Buttons in heavy rotation on your iPhone 3G – not because you’re trying to impress people with your musical eclecticism but because you love music. Yeah, that’s it. If you’re someone else, think of it this way: Out of 90 acts you would think at least one has a chance of actually making a name for itself, so, money well spent.

Zombie Ball

The Luv Doc Recommends

October 27, 2009

Hopefully by now you already have your balloon boy costume put together. Good show. Your friends and random acquaintances will surely have a marvelous time secretly trying to burst your bubble. Don’t pout. When was the last time you had so many people trying to poke you? Besides, they appreciate the effort. It’s not like you just scrawled H1N1 in Magic Marker on an old undershirt. Here’s a hot tip for people trying to get laid on Halloween: Don’t dress up as a virus, even and especially if you’re an apathetic slacker who won’t look outside your dirty clothes pile for a Halloween costume. Sends the wrong message. If you’re not willing to wear something embarrassing and uncomfortable every once in a while, it’s a good bet you’re not sitting on a wallet full of unexpired condoms either. A shitty, thrown-together-at-the-last-minute costume isn’t especially scary, but barebacking is, just maybe not in a Halloween type of way. You might as well just scrawl “HERPES” on your T-shirt and be done with it. That way you can spend the rest of the night passing out candy to kids whose parents will slap it out of their hands the minute they get off your porch. Maybe you could offer them a hit off your beer bong instead? Regardless, Halloween is a night of endless possibilities. That’s what makes it so fun. It’s not like you have to bake a turkey; wear a hot, itchy sweater with blinking lights; or break up with your girlfriend so you don’t have to buy her a Valentine’s present. All you have to do on Halloween is pay the ante of at least a bag of cheap Mexican tamarind lollipops and, of course, try not to mow down any grade schoolers wearing poorly lit Harry Potter/Twilight costumes on the way back from your last-minute run to Fiesta Mart. As a general rule, operating a motor vehicle is extra tricky on Halloween – especially if you’re wearing clown shoes, big bird feet, or 4-inch, come-fuck-me pumps (that work perfectly with your crotch-high nurse outfit, fake lashes, and press-on nails). As you surely have already learned by now, drinking only complicates things. Not only is it difficult to fit a Natty can through the mouth of a rubber gorilla mask (smart monkeys drink longnecks), but alcohol also impairs your ability to interact sincerely with children – and really, why should you even make an effort when they’re all jacked up on sugar anyway? Some people would argue that Halloween is for children. Those people are wrong. You can’t expect people to stop believing in ghosts just because they attended four years of college … and maybe did a little post-grad work in paranormal psychic phenomena … that’s just crazy. No, grownups need to celebrate the dead too, ideally by dressing up in completely embarrassing/ridiculous costumes, drinking, and doing something worthy of at least a Facebook video post. Otherwise, why would the dead even pay attention? Aren’t they busy luring little blond girls into televisions? This Saturday and Sunday you can do something that will make the dead stand up and pay attention at the first ever Zombie Ball, a two-day Halloween throwdown sponsored by the folks at Sustainable Waves. The Zombie Ball features three solar-powered stages of live music and a haunted ballroom with Texas’ second largest disco ball … uh … vampire slayer. Make sure to ride your bike. Your rubber-chicken feet may be huge, but at least you’ll leave a smaller carbon footprint.