The State of Texas: Oct. 11, 2013
Austin-based band White Denim has been getting a whole lotta love recently. They’re playing both ACL weekends, this week’s cover boys for Austin Chronicle and just dropped a new album that’s getting positive reviews in this nation and the other. Though they’re known for being wild and jangly, the band admits to making cleaner music lately. It’s not so much selling out as buying in. Either way, the results are terrific.
Actor Kumar Pallana died yesterday, just a few years shy of becoming a centennial man. If you’ve ever seen a Wes Anderson film, you’d no doubt recognize him, particularly for his role in The Royal Tenenbaums, as the titular character’s sidekick/knife-wielding attacker. As the A.V. Club remembers, Pallana “led a massively interesting life before hitting the big screen at nearly 80.” He was born in India, came to America and wowed audiences by spinning plates and performing other vaudeville fare. Later in life, he sold spices and Indian food at his son’s Dallas coffee shop. Here’s a great Believer interview with the man. And here is Pallana dispensing life lessons.
Stating the Obvious — It’s been almost six month since the West fertilizer explosion shocked a town and injured more than 160 people. Now, the national Occupational Safety and Health Administration has finally doled out responsibility and fines. On Thursday, OSHA fined “the parent company of the West fertilizer plant … $118,300 for 24 workplace violations, including unsafely handling and storing two dangerous chemicals.” Unfortunately, OSHA’s full report couldn’t be released because of the government shutdown, according to the account in the Dallas Morning News. So instead, California Senator Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate’s environment and public works committee, just read some of the results out loud during a conference call. “Boxer said OSHA found that West Fertilizer Co. failed to train and license its forklift operators, didn’t pressure test replacement hoses on chemical tanks, had inadequate relief valves, did not have an emergency response plan and also didn’t have required fire extinguishers.” According to Boxer, the investigation is still not complete. In related West news, the former paramedic “who was among the most vocal first responders” after the accident, pleaded guilty “to federal charges that he collected materials for a pipe bomb.”
Buyer’s Market — A 3-2 record doesn’t look that bad, but money talks, and in this case, it’s giving us another reminder of how pitiful the Longhorn season has been thus far: fans have started giving up hope and giving up tickets. “A study released Thursday by SeatGeek.com, a search engine that tracks ticket prices on the secondary market, showed resale seats in the Texas half of the Cotton Bowl are nearly 40 percent cheaper than tickets in the OU half of the stadium,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “The site called it the largest gap in prices since 2010, a season when Texas finished 5-7.” Should you wish to decline purchase, A&M has an alternative way you can spend your cash. Apparently, all that record-breaking fundraising wasn’t enough for the Aggies, as they’re now selling 100-percent, Grade-A Kyle Field turf. At a little less than $100 a square foot, it’s a steal. Officials are selling it by the pallet (450 square-feet), for $400. And for those with a little less to spend and a little less room for such an oversized welcome mat, “Texas A&M will also be selling off a limited number of single square of grass at $20 a piece.”
Real Kitchen Nightmare — Halloween is just twenty days away! In prepping for the event, the Houston Press has served up a deliciously bloody story about horrors in the professional kitchen. Restaurant critic Kaitlin Steinberg interviewed a number of chefs about inevitable kitchen injuries and found that they have more sharp-edged encounters than Norman Bates. But there are other screamers. “Oh, and someone was telling me today that they knew someone who had dropped a three-quart can of tomato paste into the fryer and then forgot about it,” records Steinberg. “So the person turns on the fryer, and at some point the fryer blew up in her face. It was just trying to keep her face together at that point.” Since it seems nearly everyone clocks in as a foodservice employee at least once in their life, we’d bet good money (which we saved on Longhorn tickets), that there are plenty of other Texas restaurant horror stories out there. Naturally, we’d love to sit around around the campfire and hear about’em. So if you’ve got a gruesome, macabre, or even campy horror story about kitchen work, we want to know about it. Send your ghastly tales to the Daily Post‘s email: [email protected]. Closer to Halloween, we’ll feature the some of the best/worst/funniest ones on the blog.
Best of the Best — We’ve been pumping out so much quality work in the Daily Post, that there’s a small faction of employees considering a hostile takeover of Texas Monthly and renaming it Texas Daily. If you skipped a day this week, you might’ve missed one of the numerous online specials. Our blog-mon, Dan Solomon has a wonderful explainer regarding Texas’ struggle to maintain a healthy supply of lethal injection drugs (important note: pentobarbital is not Phenobarbital). Dan also discussed Twitter’s collective freakout after Dallas and Houston’s Sunday night passing abilities. The post itself caused another mini-freakout on Twitter, only feeding the beast in the echo-chamber. Also available is the most entertaining business story about breastaurants and Big Tips Texas that you’ll read all week. And meanwhile, in Lubbock, Sonia Smith reports that things got a little stranger after “An anonymous group has erected 59 of the billboards” depicting a tattooed Jesus. You should also go out and pick up a copy of the magazine, but there are a couple news-making gems now available online. These include Senior Lavatory Critic Jason Cohen’s article on the best restroom in Texas; editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein’s Q&A with education reform turncoat, Diane Ravitch; and Mimi Swartz’s marathon profile of UT’s polarizing track coach, Beverly Kearney.
Things We Missed — The next time some NYC city slicker gets all high-and-mighty about their Sin Den and begins bashing backwoods Texas, just point them to this recent BuzzFeed article. Then you can laugh all the way to the bank, where only you will have money in the savings account. BuzzFeed’s piece is, of course, a little BuzzFeedy, but it’s a fun side-by-side comparison of one twenty-something holing up in Brooklyn versus a twenty-something in Waco with all the roominess and luxury of a mansion.