Life & Arts

Arts and Culture
4:50 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

The Panopticon Shot Bar: SceneTap Uses Cameras to Survey Nightlife

Smartphone app SceneTap uses cameras and facial recognition software to assess the male-to-female ratio in Austin nightclubs.
Photo courtesy

So this is the way we live now: a new mobile application is coming to Austin that rates bars. But instead of relying on user-submitted data like Yelp, it has a network of cameras in participating nightclubs feeding real time information on a club’s capacity and demographics.

That’s the idea behind SceneTap, launching across several Austin bars this Friday.

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Arts and Culture
4:43 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Texas Artists Wanted To Create Public Art In Seaholm District

Photo by City of Austin

The City of Austin says it will pay up to $166,000 in costs and labor for someone to create a piece of “exterior art that is engaging for families and children” near a bridge that will become part of the Seaholm District redevelopment project.

The bridge, as you can see in the image above, will link Shoal Creek Trail to West Avenue via Second Street. The City of Austin’s Art in Public Places Project, which has been doing this kind of thing since 1985, says applicants should focus on meeting these criteria:

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11:59 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Well Wishes for John Aielli

Photo by KUT

John Aielli has hosted KUT's Eklektikos for decades. He was hospitalized Wednesday for a heart attack. John's prognosis is good and he is expected to recover soon. KUT has a thread going on our Facebook page and Spike Gillespie set up a blog called Get Well Soon John!

[View the story "Well Wishes for John Aielli " on Storify]

1:19 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

What’s the Deal With These New Air Jordans?

Nike's Air Jordan Retro XI Concord went on sale today across the country.
Photo by Nike

Updated at 1:18 p.m. The arrival of Nike’s newest shoe, the Air Jordan Retro XI Concord, brought crowds of people and police to Barton Creek Mall and Highland Mall last night. One police officer was injured, KXAN reports. Some people suffered minor injuries, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Several shoppers said they were pepper sprayed by police.

“Nobody was doing anything bad. We were just getting close to [the store] and they started spraying mace, and [I] got mace all over my eyes," Jalen Hall told KVUE. "I was pretty angry."

People lined up at stores across the country, and ABC News reports that police were called to stores in Indiana, Florida, Texas and Virginia. The Detroit Free Press says one man was arrested at a mall, accused of inciting a riot. One person was arrested after reportedly firing a gun into the air where 3,000 people were lined up at a store in California's Bay Area. 

So what’s the deal with these shoes, apart from the fact that they bear the name of basketball hall of famer Michael Jordan?

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9:47 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Austin's Musicians Caught In Conundrum

A musician performs at the Bat Bar during SXSW 2011 in Austin, Texas.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 11:01 pm

Sixth Street in downtown Austin, Texas, is one of the city's premiere live music districts. Guitar-shaped Christmas decorations hang on light poles, and the street is alive with bands and bars. Tonight you can hear ­­­­­­­­Austin Heat at the Thirsty Nickel, Mike Milligan and the Altar Boys at Maggie Mae's, or you could catch Misbehavin' at the Dizzy Rooster.

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5:28 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Sexy Sax Man Video Includes Cameo By NPR's John Burnett

Sergio Flores created an internet meme called the Sexy Sax Man by sporting suspenders, a mullet and a saxophone and playing the hook to George Michael's 1984 hit "Careless Whisperto unsuspecting patrons inside laundromats, shopping mall food courts and Ross Dress For Less. 

A video making the rounds online today shows the Sexy Sax Man doing his thing at popular spots around Austin. You can watch it above.

We had to mention this obscure piece of trivia about the video: It includes a two second cameo by NPR national correspondent John Burnett. He was playing harmonica with the band at Victory Grill when Sexy Sax Man hit the stage. John is the guy with a short-sleeved gray shirt on stage standing behind Flores. The section of the video starts at 1:20. 

As with most pranks, it's not quite as funny when everyone is in on it, but check out some of Flores' older videos for a taste of the humor that made him popular. 

Arts and Culture
2:26 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Briscoe Center Gets Dunne Papers

Journalist and writer Dominick Dunne (right) waiting in the media area during the murder trial of Phil Spector. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History has acquired the papers and manuscripts of the author who died in 2009
Photo courtesy

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American Studies at UT-Austin has acquired the papers of writer, journalist and frequent Court TV host and contributor Dominick Dunne.

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4:31 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Willie Nelson’s Bassist Dan “Bee” Spears Dies

Photo by Master Sgt. Lee Roberts, USAF

Dan “Bee” Spears, Willie Nelson’s bass player for more than four decades, has died at the age of 62. Spears’ girlfriend Dee Pearce said Spears slipped and fell while exiting his motor home near Nashville on Thursday night and died from exposure to the elements, KXAN reported.

Spears was born in San Antonio on August 11, 1949. He started playing bass for Willie Nelson at age 19, according to this birthday note on Nelson’s website.

We called Ray Benson, frontman of Asleep at the Wheel and a close friend of Spears for 38 years, to get his reaction.

“I’m just shocked. It’s not something you expect at all,” Benson told us. “But to paraphrase an old friend, Warren Zevon, ‘Enjoy every taco,’ because you just don’t know.”

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12:16 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Bruce Springsteen to Keynote SXSW Music Conference

Photo by Lord_Henry

Organizers of Austin's South By Southwest Music Conference and Festival announced the keynote speaker for 2012. It's the biggest catch yet for the 26 year-old event.

It was a well-kept secret but SXSW organizers revealed Bruce Springsteen will be the music conference's keynote speaker in March.

"After the death of Clarence Clemons, it marks a new chapter. So doing something like this which you know, it's an event where he can kind of assess his career; makes tons of sense," said Ann Powers, NPR Music critic and correspondent.

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Arts and Culture
11:08 am
Thu December 1, 2011

Video Art Considers Interaction With Outsiders

How would you react if a strange creature made of stuffed animals approached you in a gas station parking lot?

That was a question San Marcos-based video and performance artist Christina Sukhgian Houle was curious to answer in her latest work: Migration Patterns During Wartime.

Houle stitched together four costumes from ripped apart stuffed animals, put them on six people (two of the costumes were two-person costumes), and made them travel from El Mercado in San Antonio to the Capitol lawn in Austin.  

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4:02 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Rolling Stone Names Stevie Ray Vaughn Top Guitarist

A statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn was erected at Auditorium Shores in 1993.
Photo by birzer

Stevie Ray Vaughn is the seventh greatest guitarist of rock ‘n’ roll, according to a new ranking by Rolling Stone Magazine’s senior editor David Fricke.

The magazine notes that Vaughn’s fame was limited to the clubs of Central Texas until 1982, when David Bowie spotted Vaughn at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Bowie invited Vaughn to play on what eventually become one of Bowie’s chart topping hits: Let’s Dance. The rest is history.

Vaughn died in 1990 in a helicopter crash after a concert in East Troy, Wisconsin. A statue of Stevie Ray was unveiled in 1993 at Auditorium Shores.

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2:33 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Bolo Ties: Not Just For Westerns

Actors Roy Rogers and Dale Evans are shown in this photo, as Roy sports a bolo tie honoring his horse, Trigger.

Originally published on Wed November 23, 2011 3:32 pm

An Arizona museum is giving that state's official neck wear a display all of its own for the next several months. The Heard Museum has opened its newest exhibit: Native American Bolo Ties: Vintage and Contemporary. It will run through next September.

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Arts and Culture
3:53 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Baboon, 112 Monkees Find New Home

Photo Courtesy of Born Free USA

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court ruled today that 112 macaques and one baboon from the now defunct Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio will be relocated to the Born Free USA primate sanctuary in Dilley, Texas - a town a little more than 70 miles southwest of San Antonio.

"This is a heartbreaking situation particularly for this large group of primates who would otherwise likely be euthanized without our humane intervention," Born Free's Executive Vice President Adam Roberts said in a statement.  

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2:33 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Torchy’s Tacos Opening In Houston

Torchy's fried avacado taco
Photo by stetted

Soon Houstonites will be able to eat a green chile pork or fried chicken taco without having to drive down I-10. That’s because Torchy’s Tacos, which started as a food truck and expanded to nine locations in Austin, is now heading to H-Town.

“Houston, we have a store opening!” Torchy’s wrote on its website. “We've made a deal with the devil and the doors are set to open in December.”

Torchy’s was founded by chef Mike Rypka in 2006. He has already expanded to Dallas and has thought about opening locations outside Texas.

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3:39 pm
Thu November 17, 2011

Fun Fun Fun Fest in Four Minutes

Couldn't make it to Fun Fun Fun Fest at Auditorium Shores this year? Festival promoters just released this video recapping the weekend-long celebration of underground and alternative music. Not surprising to see a video, considering how last year's recap became a viral hit. 

1:16 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

The Redneck Hippie

As part of Austin’s ongoing quest to define who and what it is, we wanted to point your attention to this interesting short video about one of the region’s archetypes: the redneck hippie.

Filmmaker Philip Bloom interviewed Jeff Pierce, a self-declared redneck hippie who lives about 60 minutes outside the city. Pierce likes to ride BMX bikes and he loves to shoot guns.

“I got the best of both worlds going on here,” Pierce says in the video. “The coexistence of rednecks and hippies, man, that’s what a Willie Nelson show’s all about.”

Check it out and let us know what you think. 

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Arts and Culture
4:43 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

East Austin Studio Tour Starts This Weekend

A piece of art from the 2010 East Austin Studio Tour
Photo by Robert Banh

Art studios in East Austin will be open to the public this weekend as part of the East Austin Studio Tour (also known as E.A.S.T.). It starts Saturday and has various events and exhibits running for nine days. The entire event is free and open to the public.

The official preview party is not free. It's Thursday night and tickets start at $55.

Here’s how organizers describe it:  

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Arts and Culture
3:45 pm
Sat November 5, 2011

Andy Rooney's Papers In Austin

4:52 pm
Fri November 4, 2011

Austin Film Festival Reveals Fan Favorites

Image courtesy the Austin Film Festival

The Austin Film Festival has announced the winners of its Audience Awards for the festival that wrapped up last week. 

“There is no greater reward for a filmmaker than an Audience Award, which confirms their ability to tell a good story," AFF programmers Stephen Jannise and Stephen Belyeu in a press release. "Every filmmaker is a storyteller at heart, and you can’t receive better validation than the approval of your audience."

Austin-based writer/director Jeremiah Jones won the Audience Award in the narrative feature competition. KUT News interviewed Jones before the festival. You can hear that interview below.

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