Bob “Bleed” Merkt, Vintage-Car Builder

Merkt, who grew up in Wisconsin, has been designing and building hot rods for more than twenty years. He moved to South Austin in 2007 and is currently a partner and main fabricator at Austin Speed Shop.

When I was six or seven, my uncle gave me his collection of fifties and sixties hot rod magazines. There were a few hundred, and since I was just a kid, I didn’t realize they were old. I memorized every one. Now I can pick an era and know exactly what cars were popular in a certain year.

Patterns

The prevalent clichés about the eighties—the clothes, the hair, the cocaine, the veejays, the chrome sterility of music set to shimmering synthesizer sequences and thumping disco beats-—all have a basis in fact. There were some great bands then, but there was also a lot of new-wave fluff.

7 Walkers

Papa Mali (a.k.a. Malcolm Welbourne) made his name in the eighties playing reggae with his Austin band the Killer Bees. Despite modest success, he eventually reverted to what he knew best: the great musical traditions of New Orleans, which he had been steeped in during his Louisiana youth. When he crossed paths two years ago with drummer Bill Kreutzmann, who had enjoyed his own modest success with a little band called the Grateful Dead, 7 WALKERS was born.

Steer Pressure

A wise man once said, “Beware of football Bum Steers.” Baseball is fine, and so is basketball, since both of those seasons will have wrapped up by the time the January issue goes to press. But football is a different story. Just when you think a player or a coach or a team has thoroughly, unquestionably qualified themselves for inclusion into the hall of shame, just when you’re all set to ship the magazine to the printer and consign them to thirty days of newsstand infamy, the bums will do something to redeem themselves.

J. D. Cronise

Austin heavy metal band the Sword’s 2006 debut earned the group a coveted spot touring the world with Metallica and repeated appearances on the popular video game Guitar Hero, impressive feats for a band signed to an independent label.

Titaya’s

Just when Austinites had lost all hope, Titaya’s finally threw open its doors in February, revealing a renovation that was at least a year in the making. The always-crowded, utilitarian-style Thai spot has gone all sleek and modern, with cream-colored brick, cool black and white photos, and expanses of shiny, dark wood. Titaya and brother Ek Timrerk, of the now-closed Spin Modern Thai, joined forces on a menu that features modern Thai dishes along with classic Titaya’s favorites (like the incendiary jungle curry).

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