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Sorry for the lack of reporting, we were out of town. A full
is below. Meanwhile, many of you will not be getting this until you
get back to work after the unholydaze. Hope you got all the loot you
wanted, peace on earth, etc. etc. etc.
We hit the road Friday headed southwest. Somewhere in Alabama we hit
the Noble Truckstop (no, I don't know if it's a relative that runs
the joint) for some fine fried chicken and sundry canned veggies. We
stopped in Biloxi/Gulf Shores for the night and instead of hitting
the lame casinos we fell asleep watching Cartoon Network's
Mil-Looney-Um, some of Warner Bros.' funniest toons.
Up early, we had breakfast on the beach before heading west. Just
outside Lafayette, Louisiana we stopped in the heart of Cajun country
for some fried seafood (not bad but not great.) On and on, into the
setting sun and out of the swamps. We hit Houston just around sunset,
an ugly landscape with a glittering urban jewel in the midst of some
incredible urban sprawl, surrounded by countless oil refineries.
Fortunately the pilot just cruised on.
I don't care how many Mad Libs, books on tape and junk food you
bring, eventually my ass just gets tired of the same seat. By the
time we hit Austin I was more than ready to get out of that damn
truck, but we made it without too many misadventures, just in time
for a party at our hostess' home. Drinks flowed, finger food, the
usual. I was too beat to mention I'd rather be seeing El Vez up the
street and hit the sack early instead.
Sunday I started my vacation diet of pure Tex Mex. We kicked things
off at some place on the East Side, the Hispanic section of town, for
huge breakfast burritos at absurdly low prices. Over the weekend we
hit places like The Tamale House for incredibly cheap breakfast tacos
(64 cents each and damn delicious), Guero's for a marvelous combo
plate and a decent margarita, El Azteca (not related to the local
chain as far as I could tell) for a good poblano pepper stuffed with
spicy chicken, and a couple of other places I can't even remember
'cause after a while it's just one spicy blur. The food in Austin is
amazing, and cheap cheap cheap. Which makes up for the rent, which is
absurd. It's a LOT like Atlanta in that it's growing faster than the
infrastructure can take. There's plenty of sprawl and traffic and
high rent and some very scary areas of town.
The other amazing thing in Austin is the shopping. There are tons of
retro stores with some really super cool stuff. The prices aren't
great, but they're good and the selection is incredible. The real
thrift stores aren't great. The Goodwill is not worth going into but
St. Mark's is well worth a visit.
The other fun thing in Austin is the Weird Bar Tour. No, it's not an
official tour of any sort but with the right guide you can find
La La's, a tiny little joint where it's Christmas all year round (my
guide insisted you don't get the full effect until you go mid-July.)
The joint is done out in full Christmas style, including elves
dangling from the ceiling attached to wires linked to the bathroom
doors so that every time anyone uses the can they dance.
The Texas Showdown, what could have been a great honkey tonk but is
overrun by yupster-in-training students from across the road. My
guide said the reason she goes to Dottie's is because it reminds her
of the place.
Somebodyorother's Somethingorother Cabaret (they started blurring
together after a while, but I definitely remember "Cabaret" in the
title), a small club with no cabaret at all. Instead it's much like
the Stein Club.
We didn't make it to the Poodledog Bar, rumored to be a serious
redneck joint, or the Hole In The Wall, rumored to be, well, a hole
in the wall, or any of the other countless places my guide knew
about. There were just too many to get to in a 4 day weekend.
Sunday night we hit The Continental Club, rumored to be a local Star
Bar, unlike the bar up the road actually named "Star Bar", which is
some yuppie joint. The Continental has a similar feel to our local
Star Bar but on the night we were there the music was more of a Red
Light Cafe. Tosca opened, a group of strings and an accordion doing
Tango music. A pair of couples danced and it was a fun, weird scene
but I was hoping for something more electric. Alejandro Escovedo
followed, kicking off with acoustic ballads done well, but forcing me
to yawn. He turned it up a notch a little later and it was a good set
but just not what I was looking for.
Tuesday we caught a few minutes of Kevin Fowler at Babe's on 6th, the
Buckhead district of Austin. Typical old style country. In the same
bar they have a back room with another stage, hosting Terroristic
Youth that night, a typical new style rap rock a la Limp Bizkit.
Neither held our attention so we headed to the next Weird Bar on the
guide's list, Ego's. It's in the basement of a parking deck, done out
in archetypal Lounge style with red walls and stained glass windows.
To add to the lounge feel The Recliners were on stage, every member
in a smoking jacket and pajamas, doing lounge style covers of random
tunes. We came in to the sounds of Prince done with a cheesy keyboard
and very Sinatra-like vocals. They went from that to The Love Boat
theme to random 70's ballads and other slop 40 hits. Very funny stuff.
I had hoped to catch The Meat Purveyors on their home turf but they
didn't have a gig while I was out there. When I got home I found the
email announcing their break up. Their last show is New Year's Eve
out there in Austin. They'll be missed.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we're getting mentally prepared for the
New Year's degenerate reunion at the Clermont Lounge. If you're
looking for that perfect thing to do to ring in the new century join
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