Legendary Texas Psych-Rock Band the 13th Floor Elevators Are Playing Their First Show Since 1968 in Austin in May

The 13th Floor Elevators is equal parts rock and roll icon and rock and roll cautionary tale: the band, which formed in Austin in 1965, was a very early pioneer of psychedelic rock (indeed, it coined the term), and its music pushed the boundaries of the blues-rock that bands like the Yardbirds played into territory that was both harder-edged and further-out. Everyone from Led Zeppelin to R.E.M. to ZZ Top has cited the band’s influence (and covered its songs). Janis Joplin, after opening for the Elevators at a show, considered joining the group before moving to San Francisco and forming Big Brother and the Holding Company. 

But by 1969 things were finished: singer and guitarist Roky Erickson had pleaded guilty by reason of insanity to possession of marijuana in order to avoid a ten-year jail term and would spend several years institutionalized and receiving electroconvulsive therapy.

SXSW Everything

From the moment in 1986 when the idea to hold a music conference in Austin was first broached, Roland Swenson has been a part of SXSW—initially to convince people that it wasn’t a crazy idea, and then to make it happen. In the years since, he has overseen a trajectory of growth that has included the launches of SXSW Interactive, SXSW Film, SXSW Edu, SXSW Eco, and the V2V entrepreneurial conference.

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.’” 

Loaded Guns, Knives, and Other Things Texans Tried to Travel With in 2014

Air travel is hard. What with those pesky checked bag fees and all the tedious rules about how to pack liquids in carry-on bags, it’s easy to make a mistake and get stopped by airport security. Maybe you forgot your Swiss Army knife was still in your purse, or you accidentally left your corkscrew in your backpack—it happens to the best of us. All we can do is apologize profusely, allow the TSA agents to confiscate our contraband items, and move on with our travels.

Sometimes, however, people leave for the airport in such a hurry, they apparently forget to check their bags for things like, oh, loaded guns or throwing stars. Last year was a banner year for such forgetfulness.

Why It Matters That Austin's Black Population is Being Pushed to the Suburbs

Here’s a sobering demographic fact that came to national attention last year: Austin is the only large, fast-growing city whose African-American population is shrinking. Such was the troubling conclusion of a report authored by UT’s Professor Eric Tang and Postdoc Chunhui Ren, which analyzed US Census Bureau data. As The Texas Tribune wrote last year

“It is completely outside the norm,” said Eric Tang, an author of the report, which looked at cities of at least 500,000 residents that experienced a double-digit rate of population growth from 2000 to 2010. While Dr. Tang said researchers expected to find that Austin’s African-American population was not growing at the same rate as the general population, they did not expect to find a decline. None of the other cities examined, Dr. Tang said, showed a drop. 

As Austin’s population grew 20.4 percent from 2000 to 2010, its African-American population declined 5.4 percent. In contrast, the population of African-Americans increased for the Austin metropolitan region.

What the Hay?

Have you heard the one about the pastry chef who walks into a feed store? “I’d like to buy a bale of hay,” he says. “What kind?” the clerk asks. Astonished to learn there are different kinds of hay, the pastry chef says, “I don’t know.” The clerk says, “Well, what are you feeding?” Realizing he probably should not announce that he intends to use the hay in cake and ice cream and feed it to human beings, the pastry chef says, “Er, horses?”

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.

Here's Everything We Know about the Man Who Shot up Downtown Austin on Thanksgiving Night

 

(This post has been updated following the Austin Police Department’s press conference on McQuilliams.)

No one was hurt besides the shooter. That’s perhaps the most important thing to take away from what happened in downtown Austin late on Thursday night/early Friday morning, when 49-year Steve McQuilliams went on a shooting spree. It was after 2am, after the bars were closed, and it happened on Thanksgiving, which meant that the normally-robust Thursday night crowd in downtown Austin was limited. Instead, McQuilliams fired hundreds of bullets into the Austin Police Department headquarters, the Mexican Consulate, and the Federal Courthouse.

The shooting started shortly before 2:30 in the morning, according to reports. 11 minutes after the first shots were reported, McQuilliams was dead outside of APD headquarters.

Here’s what we do know right now: 

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