I’ve been eating at Chuy’s as long as I’ve been living in Austin. What do I eat? More often than not, the chile relleno-enchilada combo: cheese relleno with Hatch green chile sauce and a boom-boom enchilada. Green chile rice. Refried beans. Creamy jalapeno dip. Iced tea.
I’m not sure I could live outside the southwest anymore.
Last summer while walking around San Francisco, I took a few random snaps with my iphone using the Hipstamatic ap. I liked the way they came out and so while we were in New York earlier this week, I made it a point to get some Hipstamatic shots from my walks around Manhattan. My favorite though is one R. shot of the Thelonious Monk car we rode up to Beacon near Poughkeepsie to visit some friends.
I think I should take a walk around downtown Austin one of these days and try to do some Hipstamatic Austin scenes.
I like this Flickr slideshow embed thingy. I’ve had a Flickr account for several years now, but I’ve never done anything with it. I think I may try hosting photos there instead of here, though I haven’t quite thought out the pros and cons of doing so.
Another year, another Austin City Limits Music Festival, but this year’s ACL Fest was probably my favorite. A large part of that was the weather, which was October gorgeous. Warm, but mild days with cool nights. Fall is one of the reasons I live here. The ragweed was a problem for me, but that was far better than the year of dust, the year of extreme heat, or the year of mud. For once, the festival didn’t require any real feats of endurance and that made for a great weekend.
We arrived in the afternoon on Friday and saw a little bit each of Beach House and Spoon, but the next two bands were, for me anyway, the highlight of the festival: Sonic Youth and Phish.
Sonic Youth is my favorite band. I’ve seen them a number of times and Daydream Nation is my favorite album. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see them on such a glorious day. Their set was largely material from their recent album The Eternal, which hadn’t really grabbed me until I heard them play from it on Friday. I kept thinking, my god, this is good stuff, so I’ll certainly be giving that record a more careful listen. The highlight of the set was the two closing numbers, both from Daydream Nation: “The Sprawl” and “’Cross the Breeze,” the latter being my favorite SY tune.
Sonic Youth is one of those bands whose music requires careful attention, especially when they tear away from what most folks call music and venture into those dissonant soundscapes where chaos sounds so savagely beautiful and fearsome. These are moments when time can stop and the music truly transports me. Then the noise begins to coalesce and it seems as if I’m waking up inside a song, the one we left, but different now. Changed the way maps look different after you’ve explored the ground they represent. Listening to Sonic Youth is to remember that anything is possible and worth risking when it comes to art. It is freedom and energy and life played loud.
As if Sonic Youth wasn’t enough, just as their set ended Phish was getting started over on the other side of the park. We hustled over and were treated to the kind of show where it’s impossible not to dance. We used to see Phish every time they came through Austin back in the ‘90s, but it’s been at least ten years since they’ve been here, and I’d almost forgotten just how much fun a Phish show is. The played some of their classics (“Chalkdust Torture” and “You Enjoy Myself”) , “Backwards Down the Number Line” from Joy and some crowd-pleasing covers of Talking Heads and Velvet Underground tunes as well as a wonderfully funky “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” also known as the 2001 theme. After Phish, we called it a day.
Saturday we went down late as my allergies were really doing a number on me. The highlights for us were Silversun Pickups, a band we caught back in 2008. I really liked them then and they were even better this time out, especially since I’ve gotten to know their music over the past few years. After Silversun Pickups, we heard a little bit of The XX and then LCD Sound System came on and played an electrifying set as night settled over the park. We went home shortly after that, having decided that this was already the best ACL Fest ever (and I’ve been to all but the first one).
We went down late again on Sunday, which was for our group the least interesting day. The only must-see for us was The Flaming Lips. This was the first time I’ve seen them play, and it was a fun show, the band reveling in its weirdness, perhaps at the expense of the music, but it was still fun. Singer Wayne Coyne came out and rolled over the audience inside a giant beach ball during the intro. He sang one song while sitting on the shoulders of a guy in a bear suit. There were sing-a-longs and audience participation. The highlight, though, was the closer, a wonderful rendition of their song “Do You Realize” which opened the song up, expanding it and letting it fly, making it all the more moving and celebratory. As the song says, “happiness makes you cry,” and I’d say it could have possibly moved me to tears it was so good except the ragweed had already done that.
After the Lips finished, we turned our chairs to the Honda Stage to watch The National. They didn’t play the one song of theirs that I know (“Lemonworld”) but I enjoyed their set anyway. When they finished, we could hear The Eagles on the big stage across the park. I was torn about this. Our friends had an early flight back to St Louis, R and I had to work in the morning, and my allergies were shutting down my nose again. But it’s the Eagles. So we listened to a few tunes. “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Hotel California,” “Witchy Woman.” They sounded great and as a festival closer, they were a good choice, though I still say, Austin City Limits needs to get ZZ Top in here one year to close this thing down.
This was my eighth ACL Fest and it was probably my favorite. The weather was the best it has ever been, and Sonic Youth, Phish, Silversun Pickups and LCD Sound System were all phenomenal. Did I say the weather was amazing? It’s a shame they scheduled it for September next year. Oh, well, I’ll be there. It’s too good a weekend to pass up.
I took these pictures with my phone when we were in San Francisco back in July. They’re just random scenes done while walking around the city. I had my real camera with me, but was (and still am) intrigued by the idea of using the phone for snapshots, especially with the odd moody renderings you can get with the Hipstamatic app. Click on them to see them full size on the image page.
You don’t have much control over anything other than composition when you shoot with a phone so there’s a certain amount of surrender involved when you’re used to having the kind of control and instant results you typically get with a DSLR. Using a phone you give that up and you even have to wait a few seconds for the image to “develop.”
It reminds me of the wonder photography held when I was just starting out, the way I went about seeing the world in whole new ways, noticing light and shadow and shape. I suppose any new tool can make something new again, but when applied to photography, it allows us to experience the whole world in unexpected ways.
Simon considers the various injustices and perceived injustices inflicted by the apes and wolves with whom he lives. As with the supreme court, deliberations can take many months while he weighs the evidence. Eventually, he hands down his decisions, distributing affection and sometimes random bites as needed.
Flying west over the diamond, egrets glow orange in the setting sun as they round second base and head over and beyond third, deep into foul ball territory. It’s good to watch the sky. You might see birds, perhaps an owl. You might see free-tail bats racing through the insect swarms around the stadium lights. You might even see that foul ball coming right at you. Hopefully you have a hat to use for a glove; otherwise, that ball will sting when it smashes into your palm.
The year Andy Pettitte came down from the Astros for some rehab work, the cars were an extension of the first base line, stretching down 79 all the way to the interstate. He stood above the opposition like Goliath facing 9 Davids, but wanting to give them hope, he let them stay in the game until sometime in the 6th when he decided it was over. Then, the only bats we heard were the ones hunting insects in the glow above.
In the minor leagues, we are ladies and gentlemen and respect the good play. Sure, things can get rowdy on Thursday nights when the beers and dogs go for a buck, but stout applause greets any man who plays well. Home runs, doubles, triples, we’ll cheer work well done whether by the home team or the visitors.
There are stormtroopers, Jedi knights and even Boba Fett wandering around the stadium. I don’t know why. There could be trouble. A stormtrooper stops near our section, pauses while everyone takes his picture. He looks so real, I worry that he’ll ask to see the papers for my droids and I’ll have to blast my way back to my ship—a real piece of junk, but she’ll make point-five past light speed. Made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, I tell anyone who will listen.
In the front of section 119 almost everyone has a radar gun, held toward home in steady hands, measuring each pitcher’s worth and tallying the results in worn notebooks. These radar guns are windows to the future flashing the potential greatness of up-and-comers in red digital miles-per-hour, but they are also portals to the past documenting the steady irreversible slowing of arms that once threw lightning in the big leagues.
There is a crack, and the crowd silences as the ball sails over the outfield. You can hear the prayers, the screams and cheers waiting on thousands of lips. If the ball falls short, the stadium will sigh. When it clears the wall, the crowd lets go. Did you see that? we all ask whoever’s closest, but they don’t answer because they’re asking the same question. Hats circulate through the crowd, collecting fives, tens (twenties on those one-dollar Thursdays), tips for the batter, that master of physics, who stopped and restarted time with nothing more complicated than a wooden stick.
Some nights it all comes down to the bottom of the 9th. One more strike and the game is over. Or one good hit and the game is over. It could go either way. There is only the pitcher and the batter staring one another down. There is nothing else in the world. Soon even the players are gone as the pitch is released. All that is left is a small sphere hurtling through space toward a future we can only imagine.