Austin Tech Bros From #BeSomebody Are Losing the Fight They Picked Against Local High School Students

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.

Who Owns Texas City Names on Twitter

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.

Houston and Austin Had Two of the Biggest Rent Hikes in the Past Year of Any City in the Country

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 Banned in Three Texas Museums

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.

Demolished East Austin Piñata Shop Is the New Center of Austin's Gentrification Debate

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. 

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.


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