Being an Austin musician carries cachet well outside of the city’s borders. In years past, kids with a guitar and a dream have come to the capital from all over—from West Texas, or the Valley, or Fayetteville, Arkansas. Maybe they saw the abundant venues and enthusiastic audiences during a spring-break trip to SXSW and wanted that to be their life. Or perhaps a musically inclined buddy beckoned them to the big city. But the reality of the much romanticized lifestyle—and whether its economically feasible for most folks—has been difficult to assess since there’s so little hard data.
In the age of social media, whenever there’s extreme weather, you’re likely to see a number of videos of things in action: creeks overrunning their banks, or streets under water, or cars floating away. There’s something inherently compelling about the juxtaposition of the mundane stuff of ordinary life and these extreme weather conditions, and it’s even harder to turn away from when the images we are seeing are of familiar places.
But until yesterday, I’d never seen a stranger’s video of shocking weather conditions that featured my own house.
We should talk, Austin. You know we love you—Franklin BBQ and the Alamo Drafthouse were born there!—but sometimes your reputation as the progressive island of whatever in the middle of a red state is so ill-deserved, it embarrasses not just your own citizens, but everybody else in Texas: After all, Austin is more backwards when it comes to things like race than any of the other five biggest cities in Texas.
It’s hard to know for sure, but the fact that Austin city manager Marc Ott’s office scheduled a training and brought in outside experts to help them transition to the new city council—specifically, to the fact that 70% of the incoming city councillors are women—is not a great look for the fuzzy little hobbit’s shire that Austin sometimes likes to pretend that it is. (Worth noting: The seven-person city manager’s office is staffed by six men and one woman.)
Everybody knows how to deal with women at work: No bright light, don’t get them wet, and never, ever feed them after midnight. (Update: apparently that’s Gremlins, we regret the error.) But the city thought the staffers at Austin City Hall needed more advice:
The Austin City Limits Festival attracts around 150,000 people over two weekends. That’s good for the third-largest music festival in the U.S., behind Coachella and Lollapalooza, which means that ACL is important to more than just Texans. But for a giant music festival that attracts fans from around the country, the lineups at ACL haven’t always done a great job of representing the diversity found in popular music. Or, to put it bluntly, the festival has a tendency to book a whole lot of white people, especially at the top of the bill.
The destruction of Jumpolin, the East Austin piñata shop that was demolished overnight last month, continues to make waves. The story blew up to national proportions shortly after the Lejarazu family, which owned the shop, first found the ruins of their store on the corner at which it had previously resided. The building had been bought by Jordan French and Darius Fisher of F&F Real Estate Ventures, two Austin entrepreneurs with both real estate holdings and tech industry businesses, who had the building demolished despite the fact that three years remained on Jumpolin’s lease.
French quickly became the face of the PR counteroffensive launched by F&F, insisting that the family was delinquent on their rent (the Lejarazus later released video of themselves paying their rent, a precaution that the Austin Chronicle reports they took after F&F had claimed they were in default). French also insinuated that the Jumpolin owners may have been selling drugs on the premises and gave a bizarre interview in which he compared the business owners to cockroaches.
East Austin is a place of controversy these days. If it’s not landlords demolishing their tenants’ pinata shops without warning and calling the business owners “cockroaches,” it’s anti-gentrification pranksters putting “exclusively for white people” stickers on local businesses. And if it’s neither of those things, then it’s this: A pizza place is hiring its staff exclusively via Snapchat.
In a listing spotted by eagle-eyed Eater Austin editor Meghan McCarron, forthcoming East Austin pizza joint Pizzabelli has taken to Craigslist not to actually recruit the staff that will serve what they claim will be “the largest selection of toppings, crust, prosecco and Italian cocktails in the country,” but merely to inform prospective pizzamakers and servers that if they want a job that will presumably pay them somewhere in the neighborhood of what every other friggin’ restaurant pays, they need to apply by sending a video to the company’s Snapchat account.
The Capitol, Austin
Everyone loves this building, even if they don’t love politics. Luckily for you, the Legislature meets in regular session for only 140 days every other year, leaving you plenty of time to explore without the crowds. Yes, the dome is fifteen feet higher than the U.S. Capitol’s, and yes, it is the largest state capitol complex in the country. What else would you expect?
Taylor Mowrey Burge and her husband, Austin Burge, are having a baby in September. That’s an expensive proposition for anyone, but especially for people who work in the service industry. Taylor works with Coté Catering. Austin runs a coffee business that sets up shop at farmer’s markets and other events, and he does landscaping on the side—and they’re going to pay for all of their baby-related expenses with money that they make during SXSW.
“Next week, I’m going to write a check to our midwife to pay for everything up front,” Taylor says as she walks down Sixth Street to a space above El Sol Y La Luna that, for an 8-day stretch of SXSW, is the Camel Lounge. “Otherwise, we’d be setting up a payment plan.”
Get there early,” warned my friend Pam. “We had to wait for an hour!” So three companions and I arrived promptly at six o’clock on a Saturday. “The wait could be an hour,” said the host, looking harried as more and more people jammed themselves into the small waiting area. The weather in Austin was cold and wet, and the crowd was in no mood to linger outside, even in the pools of warmth provided by heat lamps.