What Does It Mean that Some High-Profile Sponsors Have Pulled Out of SXSW?

People have been making predictions about the end of SXSW for a very long time. Back in 2011, technology blog TechCrunch mocked the rush to declare that the conference had tipped past its point of relevance with the headline, “Saying ‘SXSW Is Over’ Is Over.” For SXSW co-founder and managing director Roland Swenson, those predictions go back even further. 

“We’ve had twenty years of people saying that it’s over,” Swenson says. “Every year, in the five weeks leading up to SXSW, we have a meeting where we bring in all the staff—which is now about 200 people—and one of the things that I’ve been doing for the past few years is I put up a projection of a headline from the Austin American-Statesman that says, ‘SXSW: How Big Is Too Big?’ and everybody looks at it like, ‘Oh, okay,” and I tell them, ‘That’s from 1991.’” 

R.I.P., RadioShack

The writing on the wall for RadioShack—the iconic, if exceptionally dated, Fort Worth-based technology chain—has been there for more than a little while now. Indeed, it’s more surprising that RadioShack survived and existed through the year 2015 than was yesterday’s news that the chain would be filing for bankruptcy, selling many of its stores to Sprint and/or Amazon, and closing the rest

The details of the immediate future of the company are still uncertain—RadioShack isn’t confirming the rumors that Sprint will be buying many to turn into retail stores to compete with AT&T and Verizon, or that Amazon may purchase them to turn them into showrooms for their technology products—but the ultimate fate of RadioShack joining Circuit City, Borders, Hollywood Video, and other once-ubiquitous, now-dead retail brands is not. 

Hotel Concierge Obliges a Guest's Request for Lots of Nicolas Cage

The job of a hotel concierge is to accomodate customer needs whenever possible, to ensure that their stay is pleasant and that whatever comforts from home they require are available to them. 

 

At San Antonio’s Hotel Indigo on the Riverwalk, that is apparently something they take very much to heart, as Imgur user “FreePsychicReadings” learned when she responded to a text from Ramon, the hotel concierge, offering her anything she might need to make her stay comfortable: 

 

The World's Largest BBQ Smoker Is for Sale in Brenham

Throwing a really, really, really, really big party and need to feed a whole bunch of people a whole bunch of smoked meats? Long dreamed of owning a “world’s largest” anything? Are you Austin BBQ magnate Aaron Franklin, and want to eradicate the famous, hours-long line at Franklin BBQ in one fell swoop? Got $350,000 lying around? If the answer to at least two of those questions is “yes,” yahtzee! The world’s largest BBQ pit is for sale, either on eBay or off of the side of the road on Highway 290 between Austin and Houston. 

The details on this monstrosity are impressive, if entirely ridiculous: The capacity of the thing is 4 tons of meat, and USA Today has the details on exactly what the $350,000 asking price gets you (spoiler: It doesn’t get you anything to haul the pit around with): 

'American Sniper' Is Blowing Away Box Office Records

American Sniper was destined to be a hit. The movie has an A-list director, an A-list star, and tells a complex story about a decorated veteran widely regarded as a hero by many Americans. But the extent to which Clint Eastwood’s film about the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (with Bradley Cooper in the title role as the purported most lethal sniper in U.S. military history) would connect with audiences is downright unprecedented.

Films released in January are done so with low expectations. This month, with Oscar-bait films still in theaters, is when distributors typically dump their garbage. If a movie has a relatively strong cast and a director with some cachet—i.e., Michael Mann’s Blackhat, released last weekend—the odds are good that the movie itself is semi-coherent nonsense. The occasional comedy can become a modest hit in January, but if a movie is expected to perform well, it usually gets released before the holidays. 

Elon Musk Wants to Build His Hyperloop Test Track in Texas

Elon Musk clearly loves Texas. Sure, he may have decided against building his Gigafactory in the Lone Star state—instead planting his massive, $5 billion factory for Tesla car batteries (and the up to 22,000 jobs that come with it) in Reno. But if you’re down in Brownsville (or if you go to any number of bars or restaurants on South Padre Island with “Welcome SpaceX!” signs on their doors), you’ll notice that people can’t stop talking about the SpaceX launch facility heading to the Valley. And now, there’s also the Hyperloop

TABC Is Now Investigating Kung Fu Saloon

2014 was a bad year for Kung Fu Saloon. The bar chain, which operates locations in Austin, Houston, and Dallas, made all of the wrong sorts of headlines. Over the summer, its unspoken dress code policy was shown to be racist by patrons, who made videos demonstrating that black customers were kept out despite similarly dressed white people being allowed in. (A former employee of the Dallas location corroborated those claims.)

Then, in November, a vicious assault took place at the Austin location, when—according to a police affidavit—a bouncer grabbed a 23-year-old Joey O’Hare, took him outside, and slammed his head into the ground. He was found in a pool of blood. The attack, alleged to have been unprovoked, resulted in the man suffering a severe brain injury, and the bouncer faces up to 20 years in prison.

Why Aren't TCU and Baylor in the College Football Playoff?

Going into Saturday, the playoff field appeared to be clear, barring an upset: Alabama, Oregon, TCU, and Florida State were the top-ranked teams in the country, with Ohio State and Baylor right behind the top-ranked teams in the “one loss” category. 

In Saturday’s games, each team won. That’s not really a surprise: in each case, the higher-ranked team beat a conference opponent. But when the teams that would be competing in the four-team playoffs were announced, Ohio State managed to leapfrog from #5 to #4, overtaking TCU, who slid behind Baylor to #6. The end result is a bracket that leaves both Texas teams in the cold come January. 

Austin-Based Restaurant PR Firm “Strange Fruit PR” to Change Name After Twitter Finds Out They Exist

The fact that Austin is a liberal island of blue amidst a sea of red that—this past November—seemed to get even redder at the ballot box is well-remarked upon. That liberal, progressive Austin also has some very serious issues to deal with when it comes to race (the city is the only growing American city whose black population is declining) gets remarked upon less often.

So a number of Twitter users over the weekend were surprised to learn that liberal, progressive Austin has also been home to a major PR firm whose name is a reference to Abel Meeropol’s poem “Strange Fruit,” which is about lynching in the South, and which was made famous as a song by Billie Holiday. The firm was launched in 2012 by Mary Mickel and Ali Slutsky (neither of whom is African-American), and its name has been a source of controversy in the past.

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