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.
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.”
The Austin tech start-up #BeSomebody—stylized like that, with the hashtag in the name—is built around an idea that makes a certain amount of sense. The company makes an app (with the same name as the company) that, when you cut through a bit of gibberish about “passionaries” and “finding your passion” and stuff, offers an attractive interface for connecting people who are interested in learning something with people who can teach them that thing. It’s like a prettier Craigslist for things like tuba lessons.
Is that a million-dollar idea? Well, considering that someone literally gave them a million dollars to pursue it last year, we would be forced to say yes. However, just because the company was able to secure seven figures in seed funding doesn’t mean that the message and worldview presented by its leadership is going to resonate universally.
Earlier this week, the Atlantic’s CityLab blog noted something fascinating: Almost no American city owns its own name as a Twitter handle. Even ostensibly forward-thinking, tech-savvy municipalities missed the boat. Of the largest cities in the U.S., only Oklahoma City (@OKC and @CityOfOKC) owns the appropriate Twitter username.
Why do so few cities own their formal names on Twitter? It comes as no surprise that very few states do, as BuzzFeed’s Brendan Klinkenberg observes, since there are only 50 states to begin with. But there are lots and lots of cities: Surely some of them were on the ball in the early days of Twitter. Plus, a lot of those cities have variants or nicknames that would work just fine for an official city account.
Austin and Houston are great cities to live in. In fact, they’re so great that everybody wants to live in them. In fact, so many people want to live in them that the rent in each city has raised by 7 percent (Austin) and 5.9 percent (Houston), which puts them on the list of “cities with the fastest rising rent in the U.S.” So, if you’re currently paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500-$1,700 in rent for your house or apartment—roughly the median rent in the two cities—don’t think of it as overpaying; think of it, instead, as just being on-trend.
Selfie sticks have been banned in at least three state museums, leaving Texans at a serious disadvantage when it comes to gearing up for next year’s Museum Selfie Day.
The Blanton Museum, in Austin, as well as the Dallas Museum of Art and the Perot Museum of Natural Science, in Dallas, all have bans on tripods and monopods that extend to selfie sticks, leaving visitors to settle for mediocre, arm-length-only selfies. Bummer! Most museums have rules against bringing tripods into their exhibition halls anyway—taking a family portrait in front of your favorite Pollock piece is a tad disruptive to other visitors—and these three museums are following a recent pattern of outlawing selfie sticks in places where they might infringe upon another person’s experience.
The gentrification of East Austin is a well-told story and hot-button subject. The 1928 Austin master plan placed most residents of color on the east side of the city (beyond what is now I-35). The current property tax structure in Texas, however, makes it difficult for longtime residents to keep their homes as taxes go up while wages don’t. And the basic cultural forces that have made hipster havens out of neighborhoods like Oak Cliff, in Dallas, and Lower Westheimer, in Houston, are at play.