Around the State

March—People, Places, Events, Attractions

 03.09.2006

You have to wonder what’s most impressive about the 48-year-old World’s Largest Rattlesnake Round-up, in Sweetwater: the fact that a community of farmers and ranchers devised a way to turn all their diamondback-infested nooks and crannies into ripe hunting grounds, drawing crowds from as far as Australia for the pleasure of ferreting out the area’s pests, or that somehow, each year, the Miss Snake Charmer Scholarship Pageant prompts a handful of sweet-faced teens to prove their merit pre-roundup by hacking off a bunch of rattlesnakes’ heads and skinning the bodies. (Try that, Miss Texas.) One fact is certain: Sweetwater’s enthusiastic dedication to its cause cannot be overestimated. During the course of the weekend, trained experts will milk venom from the fangs of live pit vipers, curious eaters will sample chunks of deep-fried diamondback meat, and snake handlers will perform feats that ten-year-old viewers will fantasize about for years. Bolder visitors can strap on their high-top boots and take a guided hunt through the area, competing with other devotees for awards like Longest Snake. Last year the record was 77 inches. And if that’s a size you’d like to wrestle with, you might just be Sweetwater’s kind of people. by Katy Vine

(For directions and more information, see “Rattlesnake Round-Up” Sweetwater.)

Hey, You!

Look who’s coming to Texas. » Kris Kristofferson

The Brownsville native is at the center of Austin’s cultural March madness: Not only will he be inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame (March 10) and honored with a retrospective of his movies at the South by Southwest film conference (March 10–14), but he’ll also perform and speak at the South by Southwest music conference (March 16 and 17). Oh, yeah, and his latest album, This Old Road, hits stores March 7.

You’ve written hundreds of songs and been in dozens of movies. Which means more to you, music or film? I appreciate both, but the music will always mean more, because that’s the stuff I’m creating. The other stuff is jobs I’m doing for somebody else. But they’re connected. The same things that work with songwriting—when you’re communicating with an audience—are what work with acting. If you can make people believe you’re telling the truth, and they buy it, then you’re successful.

What’s your best film role? There’s a few I really like: Charlie Wade, in Lone Star; John Norman Howard, in A Star Is Born; Blackie Buck, in  Songwriter.

How about your favorite song you’ve written? There again, it’s hard to pick just one. It’s probably harder than film. The songs that people I respect have liked enough to cover probably mean the most: “Me and Bobby McGee,” “For the Good Times,” “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.”

Do the words of songs you wrote forty years ago mean the same now? They still work: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” The only difference is, I’ve got a lot to lose now. I’ve got a family that means more to me than life itself.

You turn 70 this year. Do you feel the same now as when you were 21? Well, it depends on what time of day it is. I feel better than ever onstage. I still feel like the same guy until I get up in the morning and I’m looking in the mirror at this old guy brushing his teeth. But things change. You get offered fewer films when you’re a geezer.

You have a part in Richard Linklater’s next film, Fast Food Nation. I play a rancher who talks about slaughterhouse conditions.

And your voice and face are in a video game called Gun. My kids wanted me to do that. I didn’t realize how violent it was. There’s not a whole lot of range in that character. But it’s not the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

What is? I’m not gonna tell you. I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my life. But God protects fools and songwriters. Interview by Michael Hall

(For directions and more information, see South by Southwest Austin.)

Get A Load of This

More than you’d ever want to know about Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Husband-and-wife artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have been dotting the globe with their large-scale works for close to fifty years—think The Pont Neuf Wrapped, in Paris; Surrounded Islands, in Miami Valley Curtain, in Rifle, Colorado (right); and the recently acclaimed The Gates, in their adopted home of New York City (left). After a nearly thirty-year absence, their work has returned to Texas’s capital in “Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Würth Museum Collection,” a 75-piece exhibit on display through April 30 at the Austin Museum of Art—Down- town. On loan from the German museum, which boasts the second-largest holding of the duo’s work, are Christo’s early wrapped objects, preparatory drawings and collages, a scale model of Berlin’s Wrapped Reichstag, and photographs. Says AMOA executive director Dana Friis-Hansen: “Texas deserved an in-depth survey of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work, and this is like a greatest-hits collection.”

» Calling All Art Groupies

March 30: Christo and Jeanne-Claude will talk at the Paramount Theatre about their current work-in-progress, Over the River, a project to suspend fabric panels horizontally above a stretch of the Arkansas River in Colorado. (See page 28). March 31: The couple will sign books at the Austin Museum of Art—Downtown. Buy the exhibition catalog, accompanying book (Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Würth Museum Collection; $34.95), or a Maysles Brothers DVD set ( Five Films About Christo and Jeanne-Claude; $59.95) at the gift shop to waive museum admission for the day.

[ UNWRAPPED ]

The artists on financing their projects, working together, and idiotic mislabeling.
When did your collaboration with the Würth Museum begin? Jeanne-Claude: Many, many years ago, when we met the owner, Reinhold Würth, and his wife, Carmen. The Würth Museum is one of our biggest collectors. Sometimes they approach us about adding a piece, and sometimes we call and say, “We don’t have enough money for this or that project. Come buy something.”

Have you ever envisioned a project in Texas?

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