Thursday, July 19
ACL Fest: A 10 Month Retrospective
As you know, Austin City Limits is the long running PBS show that features musical acts from Austin. That’s pretty much a guess as I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the show. (But it seems believable, yeah?) ACL Fest is a 3-day outdoor music festival that takes place in Zilker Park near downtown Austin every fall. Though ACL Fest has only been around since 2002, it’s already achieved a level of renown and awareness that makes my preceding explanation of what ACL Fest is to be a complete waste of your time. Sorry.
As recent transplants to the blue isle, Tania and I figured we should check out the festival. And to help us pass the time, Burnsie from the old country flew out. Or maybe he flew down. I forget where he flew from. Point being, he came out here. And we decided to take photos for posterity’s sake…
When Davie got into town Thursday night, we dined at Hula Hut. We pretty much take all of our visitors here. Its combination of waterfront/top location, people-watching, and margaritas makes it an excellent place to kick off the weekend. I normally wouldn’t let a guy with sketchy facial hair paw Tania like this, but I made an exception this time:
Next day, it’s Friday! Day of the festival! Awesome! Let’s get to the festival!! In order to avoid mass traffic hysteria near the park, we’re advised to go downtown and catch a shuttle to the park a couple miles away. No biggie. Wait, what? We have to wait in this long-ass line to catch a shuttle bus to the park? Oh…
We’re getting close to the front. (Who’s this Chuck?)
We’re inside! Yay!! (And we brought water cuz it’s hotter than hell! Yay!!) As I mentioned before, the site of the festival is close to downtown, affording one a nice view of the skyline as one enters the park:
On second thought, downtown is not as close as I thought:
The festival has 6 different stages with up to 4 acts playing at any one time. So, we obviously heard a ton of musical acts at the fest. But photos of bands on stage are all the same. So here’s a photo of Gomez. Soak it in. It’s the only band/stage photo you’re gonna get:
Dude. It was f*cking hot at the Fest. During a break in our intended schedule of acts, we all pined for a nice cold body of water to jump in. Luckily, Barton Springs, a spring-fed 68 degree swimming hole was (and still is!) really close to the festival site. So we wandered over to the free portion of the springs and cooled off.
Wow. Dave used to be in shape. And I used to be “in shape for me”. Seems so long ago…
Went back to the fest and caught more tunes. Over the Friday and Saturday, we heard Gomez, the Raconteurs, Ben Harper, Van Morrison, The Shins, Thievery Corporation, Gnarls Barkley (who they?), Explosions in the Sky, Guster, and Massive Attack. Massive Attack was the closing performance on Saturday Night and they were tremendous. (Not as tremendous as the sight of the 50+ year old drunk guy throwing up next to us during Van Morrison the previous night, but still tremendous.) Good times all around.
They were so good we should do it again this year. Lemme just head over to the website and buy some tix… What the? 3-day passes are sold-out? Single-day Saturday tix are gone, too? Bitches.
In closing, a photo of the sun behind the clouds for which I could not think of a caption. (And know, I really wish I had.)
Friday, July 13
San Antonio: Why?
This city’s redeeming qualities can be summarized as follows:
- it’s cheap as hell
- it’s only 85 miles to Austin
- it’s not Houston
And why the hell does anyone live in San Antonio? Did you know 1.2 million people live here? It’s true. More, actually. It’s the 7th most-populous city in the U.S. Yeah. Crazy, right? You’re like, “What? No!! That can’t be! You’re telling me it’s larger than [insert name of city in which a normal person might actually choose to live]?” Yes!! There are more people in San Antonio than in that city you just mentioned. (Unless you said NYC, Philly, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, or Houston. Those are the only U.S. cities with more residents than San Antone. You didn’t mention one of those, did you? That would kinda derail the whole rant I’m on.)
Screw it, I'm derailed. I was going to list a ton of reasons why San Antonio blows, but it was gonna be stupid and lame. And I figure you don’t wanna read too much about some candy-assed Bay Area yuppie’s whiny little foo-foo problems. So I axed it. This way, we can remain friends. I did it for us. I love you.
Thursday, June 21
That last reason is no joke, btw. Durant’s last home game, a nationally televised double overtime win over a higher-ranked Texas A&M team, was the night before my toughest mid-term. I know of only one other 1st-year MBA student who went to that game. Everyone else was studying. On the one hand, I really should have skipped the game in favor of studying because I bombed the mid-term. I mean BOMBED. But on the other hand, no one in real estate cares about grades (except for my hiring manager nemesis at Wells Fargo), my GPA was still high enough to ensure the great state of Texas’ continued mone-fiscal benevolence, and the fact I’m talking about bombing a mid-term makes me feel 10 years younger. (And I didn’t even bomb a mid-term 10 years ago!)
Alright, enough about that crap. Moving on...
I landed an internship at the highly-respected real estate subsidiary of a likewise highly-respected insurance company based in San Antonio. We’ll call the company “InsureCo.” These guys do a little bit of everything (development, investment, acquisitions, fund management, asset management) for a bunch of different property types: office, industrial, retail, hotel, multi-family. I’m in the development group for the summer.
I’m not going to name the company by name because they’re Big Brother-ish when it comes to the internets. (But there aren't too many major insurance companies based in San Antone, so you can figure it out very easily if you so desire.) A number of websites are blocked at work: personal email sites, YouTube, and the like. I’ve also heard rumblings of corporate software that processes what people send out via email or view in their Web browser. Due to some of the too-hot-for-San-Antonio headlines found at SFGate.com, I expect I am already on someone’s watch list. I mean, I came across a headline today titled Who Loves Designer Vaginas?. (Obviously, I do. But what the hell, SFGate?!! Are you trying to get me fired?)
InsureCo employs 13,000+ in one building in San Antonio. It is the largest office building in the country; larger than the Pentagon. I believe InsureCo has gone Orwellian in order to ensure these employees, the majority of which work in customer service call centers, answer phone calls instead of wasting time on the Web. Even though the real estate subsidiary is in a building a cross the freeway from the main campus, we get our access to the internets from InsureCo. So we suffer from the same suffocating rules as the main campus. Weak.
Poop. It’s getting late and I have a whole mess of other stuff to cover:
- Date and venue set for making Tania an honest woman
- Texans’ odd habit of loving their hometown and thinking the rest of Texas blows (at least they’re half-right)
- Vacation in San Diego
- “Class” for a week in DC
- San Antonio: extremely conducive to road rage
- Go Spurs Go: a sleepy town beats a dead horse because there is nothing else to do
- Large chunks of arboria continue to fall on and around our home
- The missus and I see our breath at 1pm in early June: a San Francisco story
- Some other things I don’t remember, but may remember in the future
Wow. That's a lot. Check back for more tomorrow. (That's code for next month.)
Monday, March 19
Exposing City Kids to the Outdoors
There is a similar program here in Texas that exposes urban kids to the outdoors. Except, instead of shipping the underprivileged tykes off to summer camp, the kids are take part in the state's "largest youth deer hunt."
What? You're not familiar with this event? Oh, you probably know it by it's more common name: the Super Hunt. They just had the 4th annual Super Hunt. Awesomeness!
(My apologies for the video quality. It's less than stellar.)
Monday, March 12
Alabama: Socially and Educationally Behind the Times?
The missus just got back to Austin after spending the last two weeks in Birmingham, Alabama ("the 'Ham"!) for work. I know what you're thinking: "Alabama?! Good Lord. That probably makes Texas feel downright desirable!"
First off, you are an elitist bastard for thinking such a thing. Secondly, you are absolutely correct.
While Tania reports that the town had some very nice neighborhoods and parks, my opinion of the 'Ham is clouded by one of Tania's anecdotes from the trip. Tania was talking to one of the natives at the worksite. He was a 20-yr old white guy which, in Alabama, means he was married and had a child. (Just like Utah!) When he learned Tania was 30 (sorry, honey), the following exchange took place:
"Do you have any children?", he asked.
"Well, I have a 7 1/2 year old Chocolate Labrador."
The young man had a confused look on his face. "You had sex with a black man?", he asked.
Uhhh... WTF??! Tania was, how shall we say, taken back a bit by the young man's stupidity/racism/WTFness?
Exasperated, Tania explained, "It's a dog. A Chocolate Labrador dog."
Apparently, the young man was rather embarrassed and changed the subject at that point. But, honestly! WTF!?
Tuesday, January 16
So, if I saw you over the break, you more than likely asked, "How's Texas?" I would usually sidestep the issue of Texas as a whole and offer responses including "Austin's great", "cheap Mexican food", "plenty of outdoor activities", and "it was 80 degrees two weeks ago." Man, I really hyped that 80 degree thing, too. Couldn't tell that to people fast enough. Sadly, that feels like a loooong time ago. Like, last year.
The cold front that caused havoc in Oklahoma and other plains states a few days ago also hit Texas, but the affected portions of Texas were mainly north of us. We had a crazy thunderstorm Friday night, but there was no ice storm in these parts. However, a "reinforcing cold front" arrived from the north yesterday. The result has been a combination of ice, snow, "wintry mix", and the paralysis of Austin. (Oh no, it's 30 degrees! Don't go outside or YOU WILL DIE!!!)
Apparently, it's the biggest ice storm in Austin since 1998. The newscasts ahead of and during the cold have been kinda hilarious, issuing endless warnings: "Beware of ice on roads, especially on bridges. Do not drive unless absolutely necessary. In fact, don't leave your house if you don't need to. And if you didn't already stock up on water, canned goods, and candles, well, there's a good chance you're gonna die." Newscasters are big on hyperbole here.
All of the schools are closed, including UT. (Shucks.) Most offices and businesses are closed as well. With an unexpected day off, Tania and I took a walk around the neighboorhood...
Hail/snow on the back porch:
El Toro Verde es mucho frio:
Icicles on the back of our house:
Snow sticking to the bridge over Waller Creek, a block from our house:
More icicles in the neighborhood:
Central Park. A pseudo-park that's really just a trail around a water detention pond. Awesome!:
Picnic table near Central Market:
A lock encased in ice:
Toby's paws could handle the icy blades of glass for a while, but his paws eventually got a little raw. After the paws became raw, we mainly stuck to sidewalks. But at one point, Tania mistakenly led Toby down a path that offered no alternative to stepping on more sharp grass. Here, Tania atones for her sin:
Note the icicles hanging from Toby's belly:
The fountain at the Triangle, a forward-looking mixed use development a few blocks from our house:
Toby and a new friend:
Wednesday, November 8
My Apologies to the Ladies
No, this living embodiment of the modern masculine ideal has chosen to spend his life with someone else. Her name is Tania, she’s a cool chick, and I hope you won’t stay mad at her. It’s not her fault that she’s funny, intelligent, easygoing, and she puts up with my shit. (Ok, it’s sorta her fault that she puts up with my shit, but I actually appreciate that, so I hope you’ll give her a pass on that one.)
What’s that? How did I propose? Damn, you girls are all the same. Here I am trying to let you down easy, and all you wanna hear is how I proposed?! You wanna see the ring, too??!! Jesus.
Fine, fuck it. I was trying to be sensitive to your surely fragile mental state upon learning that I am no longer available, but if you want to pretend everything is great while ignoring the pile of rubble that was your life plan with me, so be it. I can only lead you to the water. I can’t make you drink it. Here you go…
Tania had been studying pretty conscientiously for a month prior to an engineer certification exam on Saturday, October 28th. The test was an all-day affair, starting around 8am and going until 5pm. A day or two before the exam, I suggested we go out to dinner that night to celebrate her completion of the exam. Nothing more, nothing less.
So she got home from the test after 6pm. I asked her how it went, demonstrating my interest in her life, blah, blah, blah, etc, etc. I then suggested she get dressed up because we’re gonna go somewhere nice. I think this got her a little excited because we’re poor college kids and we don’t dress up to dine very often. But I didn’t tell her where we were going to eat. And it was obvious she wanted to ask, and she finally did ask when we were in the car, but I didn’t tell her. We headed downtown and I parked a little deviously to increase the chance she doesn’t figure out where we were going. We walked a block, I deked her into thinking we were going to Roaring Fork, we kept walking, turned a corner, and ambled up to the entrance of the Driskill Grill. The Driskill Grill is a rather nice restaurant located in the Driskill Hotel, a historic hotel built in 1886. It’s kind of the shit:
Tania and I had previously discussed dining at the Driskill Grill for some future occasion, maybe my birthday. I think she believed that her completion of the exam was a big enough reason to eat there, so she didn’t suspect there was more to the evening. We got to the Grill a little early, so we had a drink under the longhorn in the lounge:
Tania mentioned we should check out the hotel a little after dinner. (Perfect.)
Soon, our table was ready. We were led to a small table corner table. Two moneyed middle-age couples sat at the table next to us, yammering on about stupid rich people problems involving their kids’ therapist. Tania and I gazed into each other's eyes and silently hoped/agreed we too would have stupid rich people problems someday.
The food was delicious, the wine got us buzzed, and the restaurant employed a diminutive gentlemen whose sole responsibility appeared to be to replenish our bread supply. So this is how the other side lives. Not bad.
After the bill was paid, we began our aforementioned tour of the hotel. We checked out the lobby, bar, etc. and then I led us into an elevator. We got out on the 5th floor and took in the “very Texan” artwork on the walls. I then noticed there were slips of paper wedged in the doors to the guestrooms. I pulled the paper from the door of room 537, unfolded it, and began to read it. It was a reminder to set your clock back one hour that night. Tania was mildly distressed that I was reading something meant for the guest of the room, so she walked a few steps ahead in the hallway. I then pulled a key out, opened the door, and walked in. This caused Tania some serious consternation as she did not notice that I had a key. She stood in the hall ten feet from the room, imploring me to leave the room.
“Come on, Rob. Let’s go.”
“I think this is our room,” I respond.
She doesn’t even entertain the idea and quickly tells me to get out.
“No, seriously. This is our room,” I reiterate in that annoying tone I use in which the person to which I’m speaking has no idea if I’m serious or not. You know, my everyday voice?
"No, that’s not. Let’s go," Tania pleads.
"Then why are your clothes in the drawer?"
Now I had her attention. I opened the drawer and showed Tania her clothes. At this time, she also spied the champagne on the corner desk, and started putting things together. Of course, the first thing on her mind was Tobias. Before she could even ask, I assured her a classmate would drop by our house the next morning to feed him and let him out. And with that news, Tania could relax.
We had some champagne, I proposed we stop living in sin, she accepted, and we began to envision getting old and fat together.
Wednesday, October 4
Bad Idea Jeans
Zach Braff, the likable everyman from Scrubs and Garden State, has a new movie out called The Last Kiss. Based on the previews, I assumed this movie was going to be Garden State 2: Zach in another chicky relationship movie with a cool soundtrack. He even cast himself opposite another hot young brunette, with Rachel Bilson taking over for Natalie Portman. So, yeah, I’ll see that with Tania. Harmless little good guy Zach Braff acting all innocent and getting the girl in the end. This seems safe, right?
Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. In the movie, 29-year old Zach is living with his similarly-aged girlfriend, played by a kinda hot Jacinda Barrett, who got her start on some unmemorable season of Real World. And while things are going very well for Zach in his personal life, he becomes tempted by a 20-year old college student, played by the aforementioned Rachel Bilson. Why he is tempted given his current happy situation, I don’t know. But, he ends up sleeping with Rachel, Jacinda gets justifiably pissed, and... well, let me just say this:
If you are a 30-ish guy living with your similarly-aged girlfriend while attending business school on a campus that happens to have a bunch of 20-year old girls running around in short shorts all the time because of the warm weather, do not see this movie with your girlfriend. It could be the single-worst idea you have this month.
But the soundtrack was nice.
Labels: short shorts
Wednesday, September 27
Not Much New Around Here
Oh, I guess I should mention that Ryan from the old town dropped by for a visit a few weeks ago. We hung out for a weekend, ate and imbibed, watched a little NFL on opening weekend. Standard September fare. Wait. We did something else, though. What was it? Hmm... Oh, I remember.
We watched the local college football team take on some large out-of-state school’s football team. (American football, not “footie”.) You probably didn’t hear about it, but it was kind of a big deal down here. Your University of Texas Longhorns hosted the top-ranked and morally repugnant Ohio State Buckeye football team. It was the first meeting of the #1 and #2 college football teams during the regular season in 10 years. Many thought it was the biggest game ever played in Austin. And 30,000 buck-toothed-, err, Buckeye fans came to Austin from all over the country to support their team of future felons.
It’s weird, though. Thinking about the game now, it feels like it took place a really long time ago. Wait, what? It feels that way only because I slacked a few weeks before writing about it? Oh. That makes sense.
Crap. I took some pictures. Do you even care to see them? It's been awhile. You wanna? Yeah? Cool. Let your eyes eat it up...
A few of the 30,000 Ohio State fans preparing for the game at their weekend compound, Stubb's, a downtown BBQ joint that doubles as a music venue:
Ryan and Tania at the business school tailgate:
Damn, there are a lotta people here. 89,000+. How they all fit into a stadium that seats 85,000, I don't know.
Ohmigod, ohmigod, OHMIGOD!! Matthew McConaughey and Jake Gyllenhaal! Matthew McConnahey and Jake Gyllenhaul! Matthew McKonaughay and Jake Gillenhall! They're here! At the game!!
Wait... are they even friends? Who the hell are those people?
Oh yeah. That's totally them. This is now officially the dreamiest game in Austin's history.
Damn. My Hook 'em was cut off:
So, I sold my extra game ticket to this crazed Ohio State fan pictured here for a few bones before the game. She, uh... she was really into the game. I mean really into the game. I began to worry a little about her sanity as the game wore on, even suggesting that Tania not get so close to her for this pict-...
Holy shit. Rusti? Rusti, is that you? How the hell you been? Is Martin here with you? How's the casa in Alameda? I didn't recognize you when I sold you the ticket. Umm, one question. Why, uhh... why have you been making that face for the last two hours?
It's later in the game and the 'Horns are beginning to suck. Let's gaze at the landmark UT Tower.
The largest high-definition screen in the world. It was originally called Godzillatron. A splinter group has begun calling it Adzillatron. That might be more appropriate. FYI: a stadium somewhere in Asia will soon have an even larger hi-def screen, dropping UT's screen to 2nd largest in the world. Weak.
Ohio State 24, Texas 7. Why did you leave us, Vince? Why?
Ryan, Tania, and I headed downtown after the game for a beverage. We ended up at Speakeasy, which has a pretty tight roofdeck with cushy space for lounging.
Much to Tania's consternation, a good portion of Sunday morning and afternoon resembled this:
We finally left the house in the mid-afternoon to get Ryan some authentic Texas barbecue at County Line. The three of us ate at the original location which has a nice view of the severely overhyped Texas Hill Country. (Though, to be fair, I could not see the entire hill country from the restaurant.)
We consumed mass quantities of ribs, brisket, and sausage until we there was no room left in our tummies. Then they offered us some dessert. So we made some room. (I won't say how.)
Tuesday, September 5
First Week ‘o Class, More Drinking, and the 1st Football Game
Last week was once again busy, and I guess we can assume that every week will be busy for me until after Christmas. We had our first days of class Wednesday and Thursday, and the amount of workload the teachers announced seemed to be inline with what I was expecting, i.e., more than my Kaiser-damaged brain can handle at the moment. Hopefully, I’ll be able to ramp up my ability to think before it’s too late.
Thursday night, I met a bunch of other MBA students for some drinkies at the weekly Think n Drink. This week, the location was Fado. I’d never heard of it, but apparently Fado is a national chain of Irish bars. In exchange for feigning interest in the graduate rugby club, I was given a wristband that entitled me to $3 drafts and well drinks. I didn’t even mean to sound that excited about rugby. I merely told the club prez (who also doubled as the discount wristband distributor) that my older brother had played rugby at Cal Poly. That simple admission made me one of the more appealing rugby candidates. Well, that and my square jaw, rock hard physique, and imposing receding hairline.
Anyway, I chatted with a bunch of new bestest friends forever in the program at Fado for a couple hours. We later headed to a nearby bar partly-owned by Austin’s favorite son who in no way never ever took any performance-enhancing drugs ever (never!), Lance Armstrong. It’s called Six, so named after Lance’s sixth Tour de France title. (Why he hasn’t opened a complementing restaurant named "7" nearby, I don’t know.) It’s early in my tenure here, but Six has become one of my favorite bars, mainly because of its rooftop bar with views of downtown. Its groundfloor bar reminds me of West in NYC, but I haven’t spent much time there because of my unabashed love for drinking on rooftops. I spent a few hours there imbibing and winning over the hearts and minds of strangers. I later headed to a classmate’s downtown loft for a cocktail before getting home around 3:45 am.
Friday was spent running errands, working out, and resting in anticipation of the first UT football game of the season on Saturday. As you may know, UT football is an absurdly important aspect of life in Austin. Because Austin has no pro sports team and the hometown University of Texas has one of the largest and most well-rounded (and well-funded) athletic programs in NCAA, the town treats the UT athletic program as its pro teams. And UT football is far and away more important than UT basketball, baseball, or any other sport. I’ve been hearing daily stories about who will replace Vince Young at quarterback since I got here. (For the record, red-shirt freshman Colt McCoy is starting ahead of true freshman Jevan Snead. You need to know this.) There is probably a UT football story on the frontpage of the Austin American-Statesman twice a week. In the world of Austin sports, UT football is first, second, and third. Everything else is a distant fourth. Perhaps I’m being too subtle so I’ll just come right out and say it: UT football = big deal in Austin, and in the state of Texas as a whole. Sorry for beating around the bush. (I’ve never really understood what that cliché means.)
This past Saturday’s game started at 11am to accommodate Fox Sports. Therefore, the tailgating started early in the morning. The b-school tailgate started at a somewhat restrained 9am. One benefit of being in the b-school (among many!) is that we have sponsors who provide free food and drink at the tailgate party before each home game. Miller Brewing provides the beverages each week, and a host of other sponsors pay for the food, tent, security, etc. Off-duty Austin police officers work the door to ensure that none of the riff-raff gets in. You know who you are.
Tania, myself, and a few others didn't leave the tailgate until all of the beverages were dusted about 20 minutes after the game began. We decided to take our time because UT was playing such a patsy. Your defending national champion Longhorns hosted the surprisingly gentile Mean Green of North Texas. I believe North Texas' football history begins and ends with "Mean" Joe Greene (Hall of Famer, 4-time Super Bowl winner, and cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s legendary "Steel Curtain") who played at North Texas in the 60’s. We arrived midway through the 1st quarter with UT up 7-0. (Is that all?) By halftime, it was 28-0. It was also hotter than hell. Everyone left their seats at halftime to get a drink and some shade underneath the stands. And I have not yet spoken to anyone who returned to their seats for the 2nd half. Everyone I know went to Scholz Garden a few blocks away to have a few beers in the shade. UT ended up winning 56-7, Colt McCoy reassured the entire state by throwing 3 TD passes and running for another in his first start, and the state of Texas now salivates for Saturday’s home game against top-ranked Ohio State. And that’s about where things stand in Austin at the moment.
Oh, also, I have this alarmingly weak neck-beard going: