Avid Cyclist

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Texas BBQ

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Burlesque Show

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This banner was hanging in the back room of The Continental Club in Austin, Texas.  It reminded me of my young days living in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.  I suppose I was about 12 or 13 years old back then.  My buddy and I used to take the city bus downtown and spend the entire day exploring all that Cleveland had to offer – dusty magic shops, musty book stores and magazine shops, record shops where you could listen to a 45rpm record in the sound booth before you bought it…. and the tempting, seedy Roxy Burlesque Theater.

Kids weren’t allowed in there obviously, but we were allowed to go into the gift store where there was an abundance of black and white post cards of sexy, plump, European-looking women with g-strings and pasties.  There were racks of post cards plus a couple of glass counters that had decks of cards, ash trays, lighters and a couple other long, rectangular packages with red hearts on them that guaranteed women would love whatever was inside of it.

There was a heavy red curtain covering the theater entrance door that we never got to peek behind, but we tried.  Rumor had it that creepy old men go in there and you would NOT want to sit near them if you did ever get in.  We’d usually hang out there for 5 minutes or so until the manager chased us out, figuring we were about to steal something.

I never got to go when I was old enough to get in either.  They’d closed it down by then.  It’s probably better that way.  Our imagination most likely provided us with better dreams than the actual show.

 

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Tips

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Risk! – The Podcast

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Paramount Theatre in Austin Texas

Patty and I went to Austin, Texas last week specifically to attend a live performance of the show ‘Risk!’.  It’s one of Patty’s favorite podcasts where people get up in front of an audience and risk telling true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public.  It’s hosted by Kevin Allison, the show’s author from the legendary TV sketch comedy troupe The State.  (http://risk-show.com) He helps those that want to tell their story craft their delivery so you’re pretty much guaranteed a quality delivery from each participant.

This Austin show started off with Kevin sharing one of his stories about his first gay sexual encounter in New York City.  Four other people followed his delivery with their stories, each lasting about 15 minutes.  Topics included a fella trying to become an actor facing his insecurities, a gal dealing with a cheating boyfriend in the Army, then another gal told about her awkward experience with boys in her adolescence. The last performance was by Patty’s niece who told the tumultuous account of her son’s suicide attempt. All were well rehearsed and delivered with compassion, humor and honesty.

I don’t listen to the podcast that much but Patty has shared several of her favorites with me.  They’re quite entertaining because people share their most intimate experiences and thoughts which quickly draws you into their story and holds your attention as they bare their souls to you.  The ones that stand out for me was the hilarious ‘Fuck or Fight Situation’ story by Melanie Hamlett about a gal on a ski adventure with a bunch of men. You’ve got to watch this one.  I posted it below for your viewing.   I loved the ‘Spanxgiving’ story by Aubrey O’Day of Danity Kane.  I linked the YouTube video of it below too.

While I certainly had a delightful evening listening to people share their stories, it was not one of the better series of stories I’ve hear.  That’s not meant to take away the courage of each story teller or the polish it took to refine their stories.  I recognize the bravery and the hard work it took to present their stories.  But for me, the stories were nice but not the best.  I had a hard time believing one of the stories about dog poop rolled up inside a handkerchief and stuffed down a girls pants so she’d look like she had a penis.  In another story, a gal blamed the military for screwing up her cheating boyfriend and concluded that it was the Army’s fault for her relationship troubles.  Anyhow, without tearing apart each story with my own critical analysis, I’ll happily say that I love being exposed to new ideas, new stories and new people.  In that regard, Risk in Austin was quite entertaining.  I’d recommend checking out the podcast samples on the Risk website where you’ll find highlight of the show over the last couple of years.

Is it wrong to be judgmental of a person who share’s a very personal story or is that part of the process – like discussing a movie or a play after it’s over?  It’s just my opinion of course and we all know that what they say, ‘ assholes and opinions – we all have them.’

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Austin’s Whole Foods Market

WFMWhen you visit Austin, Texas, Live Music capital of the World, of course you’re supposed to go to 6th Street.  You also ought to visit the State Capital, the University of Texas campus, Barton Springs, Zilker Park, eat BBQ and some Mexican food too, but from now on, you’ve got to put the original Whole Foods Market high up on your list. Patty wanted to get some veggies and I was just going to tag along before we headed out to visit some local wineries.  Boy was I in for a surprise.  The store absolutely blew me away!

I’ve been to Whole Foods Markets in Houston before and they’re wonderful stores in which to shop.  But the downtown Austin Whole Foods store is something to behold.  To begin with, there’s a multi-level parking lot with sensors over each parking space where a green light indicates a vacant space is available and a red light means its occupied.  That’s how many cars there are trying to get into the store.  Lots!  There’s an escalator up from the underground parking levels and a special flat moving sidewalk going down so you can take your shopping cart back to your car to unload all the goodies you’ve bought inside.

Happy Shopper

Happy Shopper

Reaching the top of the escalator, I expected to see the typical produce section, the dairy section, the canned goods, the bakery and meat counter but I had no idea that I was about to be wow-ed to the degree that I was.

The place was HUGE!  The produce section – huge. The seafood area – twice the size of the Houston stores.  The meat counter – as big as the whole back wall of our local store at home.  Cheeses, wines, bakery, confections, juice bars, steam tables, sandwich areas, grill areas, BBQ kiosk, wine bar, beer bar, sushi, nuts, coffee, teas….I simply cannot describe the size and depth of their inventory.  In a way, it felt like Seattle’s Pike Place Market, or an open air market in Amsterdam, Paris or Mexico.  There were soaps, potions, oils, flowers, health foods of every kind, dim sum, ice cream samples made from some kind of pampered dairy cow from Ohio that makes this $11/pint ice cream seem logical.  I mean everything that any modern, environmentally conscious shopper would want.  All very well staffed by smiling, happy tattoo-ed, pierced, dread-locked, bearded, hippie looking employees – all of whom were knowledgeable and helpful and quite nice.  The place is full of healthy, athletic looking people.  Health nuts and art students and men in clogs and stuff.  And get this! – hold on to your panties – there were lots and lots of cashiers who smile and chat with as you checked out and paid for your stuff.   A properly staffed store! Who would have thunk it?!?!?

Juice BAr

Juice Bar

What I realized as I reached the end of an isle and stood there gape-ing at all there was to see, was that this was a business that was doing everything right.  While we have been told that Kroger and Safeway and H.E.B. are where we go to buy food and home goods, Whole Foods Market has listened to their customers, studied how their customers spend their money and delivered health conscious foods – both raw and prepared- to the people that have been asking for this kind of choice in stores.  They’ve given lots of floor space to prepared food areas for already cooked foods, pizzas, chicken salads, egg rolls, Asian dishes and such. Just walk in, grab what you’d like and take it home, ready to eat.

Whole Foods stands out as an American success story – going from a neighborhood health food store trying to make ends meet, to a highly successful company with motivated employees, profit sharing and employee benefits too.  They’ve done things right and it shows.  I mean, who ever thought of putting a bar in the middle of a supermarket and selling crafted beers?  Or setting up tables for folks to sit at, buy a glass of wine and bite into a crunchy curst of bread while making a trip to the grocery store?  Or offer freshly grilled salmon with grilled asparagus, roasted potato and parmesean-baked tomato?  It’s unbelievable….and the place is full of happy people eating and shopping.

I went in expecting to do some grocery shopping but when I came out, I had consumed a gourmet feast of good business practices, smiling customers and employees, innovative food presentations, and a variety of products that would more than satisfy any culinary palate.

Enough!  Just check out the photos.  You’ll see what I mean.  Go visit it the next time you’re in Austin.  You’ll be amazed.

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Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis. The Continental Club. Austin, Texas

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis perform at The Continental Club. Austin, Texas

One of the treats from last weekend in Austin was going to The Continental Club and getting to see and hear Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis.

I’m almost ashamed to say that I had never seen them before nor had I heard their songs.  I’m a music nut, a proud Texan and a live music supporter yet they’ve never been on my radar.  I’ve listened to many Texas Country/Folk bands and heard many of our Texas singer-songwriters like Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Charlie Robison (Bruce’s brother), Patrice Pike, Billy Joe Shaver, Steve Earle and lots of others, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that Patty and I went looking for some good Texas music in Austin.  Thank goodness, we chose well!

The band was tight and well practiced, their voices were strong and powerful. Their lyrics were dynamite.  Bruce and Kelly, each with their own solo careers, have been married to each other for years but it wasn’t until recently that they started recording together.  They’ve got two albums now that are wonderful – many of them are original tunes along with a few covers – my favorite being 9,999,999 Tears (originally by Dickie Lee).  They also did a very good version of Harper Valley P.T.A.

But their original songs were the real treats and they kept us fed all night long with their individual and collaborative tunes.  “If I Left You” (Kelly Willis), ‘What Would Willie Do”(Bruce Robison) were solo career gems and from their new album they sang “Dreamin’ “, “Border Radio”, “Long Way Home” plus another hour’s worth of ballads, shuffles and duets.  It was such a treat to discover and then fall in love with Bruce and Kelly.  Boy, do I feel lucky to have finally gotten to know the music these two are putting out.

Below I’ve included an interview with them from The Texas Music Scene plus a couple other songs to help get to know them better.

Here’s their website  –  http://bruceandkellyshow.com

Interview

Long Way Home

Border Radio

 

 

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