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Best of 2008 (So Far)

It’s been an encouraging year so far. Locally, there’s a lot to be excited about with upstart acts like Black Joe Lewis & the Honey Bears, Dustin Welch & the House Band, the Band of Heathens, the Belleville Outfit, and Suzanna Choffel proving the scene remains diverse and vibrant. Meanwhile, veterans like Joe Ely, Alejandro Escovedo, Kacy Crowley, and James McMurtry continue to challenge and enthrall and Grupo Fantasma and Shearwater remain in leagues of their own.I decided to make a mixtape of tracks from my favorite albums of the half-year. I’ve written about almost all of these artists either in the pages of the Chronicle or here in Geezerville, and the 22 tracks fit on an 80-minute CD. Hopefully it’ll turn you on to something you might have missed. I’m sure if there’s something I’ve forgotten, you’ll let me know.

12:05PM Wed. Jul. 2, 2008,Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

Daily - The Austin Chronicle (2)

The Sound of One Fan Clapping

I was an X-Files fan back in the day, but I have to say, when I heard they were making The X-Files: I Want to Believe – 10 years after the first installment, and 6 years after the TV series closed up shop – I couldn't help but wonder, is anybody really clamoring for another X-Files movie?Last night, at the 9:50pm screening of Wanted at the Alamo Ritz, I got my answer:The sound of one fan clapping after the trailer rolled, followed by someone else whistling the theme song. But I'm pretty sure the second guy was being ironic.

10:56AM Wed. Jul. 2, 2008,Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Ripping That Brooklyn Soul

There’s really nothing like hearing pre-recorded Jay-Z verses flow over original composition. As 2006’s S. Carter remix proved by morphing the haunting “Moment of Clarity” into Big Jack’s bravado-soaked revision, Jay’s lyrics can take on an entire new meaning when matched against a new vibe. “So pop, I forgive you for all the sh*t that I lived through. It wasn’t all your fault, homie, you got caught.” A forgiving confession becomes a one-up boast at dad.The same holds true on Mick Boogie’s Brooklyn Soul, the pieced-together collabo of Jay’s American Gangster lyrics and Mick’s pick of Marvin Gaye samples. “Party Life,” sleeking on Diddy’s sample of Little Beaver’s “Get Into the Party Life,” breaks out the champagne when dipped in Marvin’s “Everybody Needs Love.” Gangster’s Bigg D pull of “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” shaking “Hello Brooklyn 2.0” gets a bit more personal when Jay and Lil Wayne receive some “Sexual Healing.” “Distant Lover” adds a sense of desperation to the brazenly depicted hustler narrating “No Hook.” Most telling is “Roc Boys,” where the “drinks on the house”-drenched celebration brings to mind those classic Jay music videos from the Life and Times of S. Carter era, but it evolves into something sinister, something under the table.Obviously, Mick Boogie profiting off this one would be mind-bendingly illegal, but it’s available online through his site.

5:31PM Tue. Jul. 1, 2008,Chase Hoffberger Read More | Comment »


10th Annual Ney Day

Elisabet Ney Museum

Slam Portal VIII: Swift Justice at Central Machine Works

¡BAILE! Queer Night on the Ranch! at Esquina Tango


TXRG: Heartbreakers Hope to Break Some Hearts

With the last scheduled prechampionship bout for the Texas Rollergirls this weekend, the pressure is on the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers to take that last slot in the title race. Not only do they have to beat the Hotrod Honeys, they have to come out with a bigger season points aggregate than the Hell Marys. Manage that, and they get to face the Honeys all over again on August 3, only this time with the 2008 championship on the line. Lose, or don't win big enough, and it's Marys versus Honeys for the title, and the Heartbreakers are playoff bound to face the Hustlers.Not that the Marys will be resting on their toe-stops: They'll be playing host to the evening's visiting team, the Northwest Arkansas Killbillies from Springdale, Ark.The bout will be held as always at Playland Skate Center, Sunday July 6, doors at 6.30pm: tickets are still available. Don't forget, TXRG is still accepting donations of books, CDs, and DVDs for their traveling fund: Plus this month's featured charity is SafePlace, with interval music provided by local bards of all things foot fetishy Foot Patrol.

5:30PM Tue. Jul. 1, 2008,Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

A Spanish Futbol Dream Come True

There are few adjectives to describe the atmosphere in Vienna on the afternoon of June 29, 2008. For most soccer fans, it’s a dream to go to a World Cup Final or a UEFA Euro Final. Although I wasn’t able to be there in person, I couldn’t help but feel the passion of the game and the nervousness of the players and fans alike. In the tunnel before kickoff, players usually are congratulating each other and slapping high-fives with the opposition.Not today.As they walked down the tunnel toward the carnival that is the Euro 2008 Final, there were no glances of admiration, no smiles of joy, and no emotions whatsoever. Looks of businessmen brokering a deal that their livelihood depended on were scattered across the players’ faces. The enormity of this event and the importance of national pride seemed to have a hold on each and every athlete as they entered the field to enormous ovations.It was old world football against the new regime. Experience against youth. Work ethic against talent. Whatever phrase could be used to analyze this matchup, the only thing that could be sure was that either Germany or Spain was going home champions of Europe.

4:46PM Tue. Jul. 1, 2008,Christopher Bond Read More | Comment »

Daily - The Austin Chronicle (7)

Score None for the Judicial Process

When it comes to courts, the hope is always that they will get it right. Failing that, that the state will move swiftly to redress any wrongful convictions. Twenty-two years after his original conviction, DNA testing by the Lubbock County district attorney has proved that Tim Cole was not responsible for a 1985 rape at Texas Tech, the school he attended after leaving the Army. This is a significant, if belated, victory for the use of post-conviction DNA testing in Texas.In a press release, Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, praised the Innocence Project of Texas for doggedly pursuing the case, and said he hoped that the state's new Criminal Justice Integrity Unit will encourage the legislature "to address the many flaws in our system including eyewitness identification error, which caused the wrongful conviction of Mr. Cole and the majority of wrongful convictions in Texas."But don't get too elated. Cole died in 1999, four years after another man, Jerry Johnson, admitted to the rape and was ignored by law enforcement and prosecutors. Cole was not executed. He died of an asthma attack, brought about by prison-yard dust. He was 39. Today would have been his 48th birthday. Considering that Texas lawmakers have spent the last week bemoaning the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court won't let them execute convicted rapists, that seems somehow significant.

4:16PM Tue. Jul. 1, 2008,Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »


Flash Mobs Blow Out Five Candles

In June of 2003, 200 people gathered around a carpet in the rug department of a Manhattan Macy’s, told salespeople that their “commune” was shopping for a “love rug,” then left as quickly as they had arrived. This event would come to be known as the Internet’s firstborn flash mob. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a “public gathering of complete strangers, organized via the Internet or mobile phone, who perform a pointless act and then disperse again”, the Macy’s flash mob first took the blogosphere by storm five years ago. Though this anniversary doesn’t merit a “look back,” why not a “where are they now?”Almost as soon as they started, flash mobs have been eulogized as a crested trend. Now used as a tool by marketing companies and protest groups alike, they still make news. Last month, Taco Bell staged one outside of an MLB game in Philadelphia with hired actors in swimwear, “frozen” in place to promote their icy new treat Fruitista Freeze. In Belarus, an ice cream social flash mob was organized to protest the country’s ban on organized public activity. And of course, people are still organizing flash mobs just for the sake of it, like the silent dance party in our Capitol rotunda late last year.Improv Everywhere is a group whose stunts have been compared to flash mobs, though they avoided being pigeonholed by the fad, distancing itself early on. They’re more like the flash mob’s older, funnier cousin. IE has been, to quote their website’s mission statement, “causing scenes” since 2001, and millions now watch their videos.

3:20PM Tue. Jul. 1, 2008,Josh Duty Read More | Comment »

Daily - The Austin Chronicle (9)

Keene Prize, Kudos to George Brant

Since those halcyon days of deep-pocketed patrons are long gone, struggling writers typically have to make do with the occasional grant or free lit mag subscriptions. But for the lucky few – three so far – there's the pinch-me-I'm-dreaming Keene Prize for Literature, a not-uncontroversial $50,000 jackpot delivered annually to one University of Texas student or recent graduate.(In its two previous years of existence, the award amounted to $90,000, the world's largest student prize; this year, the top dog gets $50,000, while another $50,000 is divided between three finalists.)The 2008 Keene Prize for Literature goes to playwright George Brant, who was previously a finalist in 2006 and is a recent graduate of UT's Michener Center for Writers. In fact, all of this year's finalists are either current Michener students or recent grads, and all the Keene Prize winners since its inception in 2006 have been culled from the Michener Center ranks.I got nothing but love for the Michener Center (MCW '06, holla), but I do understand others' frustration at the mighty Michener's absolute dominance – one expressed by Seth Harp, a former economics major and the lone undergraduate finalist in 2006, in an impassioned 2007 Op-Ed in The Daily Texan titled "Give non-Michener writers a chance":"If an undergraduate ever wins, I vow to read James A. Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific" aloud, in its entirety, from the top of the Tower, clad only in this editorial."See ya next year, maybe?Full press release after the break:

2:50PM Tue. Jul. 1, 2008,Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Justices Get Jumped on for Jessica's Law

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week barring death sentences for child rapists under Louisiana's version of Jessica's Law has been greeted by many, including victims rights groups like Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, as a victory for common sense that may improve conviction rates. But that doesn't mean there's not some political hay to be made from bemoaning the ruling.Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal called the court "dead wrong" on the matter, and went on later that day to sign that state's Sex Offender Chemical Castration Bill (which no one would ever dare suggest was grandstanding to distract from the recall petition brewing against him).But what of Texas, which passed its own version of Jessica's Law last legislative session? Gov. Rick Perry seemed to be accepting the inevitable, stating that Texas must "recognize that our state is guided by the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court." Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst didn't try to claim he would attack the decision, but said he was glad that prosecutors could still go for life without parole. Meanwhile, Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, who wrote the Texas law, blamed those pesky activist judges and a "court that continues to show signs of sliding towards the left."

10:59AM Tue. Jul. 1, 2008,Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

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